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The Opacity Condition, Core Grammar and the French Causative Construction

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A recent attempt within the EST framework to account for the facts of the French causative construction is that of Rouveret and Vergnaud 1980. Here, we discuss two major flaws contained in their proposal and the relevance of the issues we raise to the Opacity Condition of Chomsky 1980. One of these flaws involves the various devices which are used to account for the distribution of y and en in the causative construction. Rouveret and Vergnaud fail to recognize that there are significant differences among these devices with respect to core grammar. The other problem with their proposal that we discuss concerns a serious mistake in overgeneration. In addition, we point out that the Opacity Condition of Chomsky 1980 allows an ambiguous interpretation of the notion 'domain of subject' and that the French causative construction provides a set of empirical facts which suggest a resolution of this ambiguity. This is accomplished through a slight modification of the OC. Furthermore, we show that there is a close relationship between this reformulation and the devices used to account for y and en. Only when certain of the devices used to account fory, en are recognized as being outside of core grammar is an empirically adequate account possible.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1983

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