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A reconsideration of the motivations for preferred argument structure

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Previous studies on Preferred Argument Structure have suggested (Du Bois 1987, 2002) and accepted (e.g. Goldberg 2004) specific cognitive motivations for PAS, namely that the general restriction of lexical arguments and new referents to the S and O roles facilitates the conceptually onerous task of referent introduction. In this paper, conversation data from English and Portuguese are analyzed. The data are generally inconsistent with the putative cognitive motivations for PAS presented in the literature. They suggest instead that PAS is most likely epiphenomenal and due to basic semantic and pragmatic factors, for example the correlation between human referents and given/non-lexical arguments, and the correlation between human referents and the A role.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 19, 2009

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