Transitivity and the Choice of a Preposition in any Language

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Hascoet, V.: Transitivity and the Choice of a Preposition in any Language. M.Phil (Linguistics) thesis. Trinity College, Dublin, 2000.

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Hascoet, Valerie
Dublin Institute of Technology
transitivity; transitive direct; transitive indirect; intransitive; argument structure; English prepositions; French prepositions; valency; syntax-semantics interface; cognitive semantics; semantic values; semantic categories; Linguistics; Arts and Humanities; French Linguistics; Modern Languages
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This thesis examines the question of determination of transitivity for a verb through a comparison of processes involved in English and in French. It takes in several theories belonging to the area of the syntax-semantics interface in order to understand how a predicate is construed as either intransitive or direct transitive or indirect transitive in either language.The study focuses on a corpus of verbs that present different argument structures in French and in English. It analyses the various factors that determine the choice of a transitivity status for a given predicate. It discusses whether that process of determination lies in the lexicon on first acquisition of a new verb, or in an interaction of pertinent semantic categories that develop as part of an individual’s language acquisition process, in order to yield the correct syntactic output. This thesis refers in particular to the study of prepositions in the field of cognitive semantics. It concludes that determination of a verb’s transitivity status takes in the “power struggle” between the various participants involved in the process. Semantic values such as human vs. non-human, active vs. passive, agency and volition, are analysed for all participants involved, in order to establish a predicate’s a-structure.