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Title: Valency reduction in Estonian
Author: Vihman, Virve-Anneli
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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Theories of voice based on a model of passivisation such as that exhibited by English tend to characterise valency modifications as primarily a syntactic phenomenon, involving the mapping of semantic roles to non-canonical syntactic argument positions. This dissertation finds such an approach insufficient to account for the observed phenomena in the more complex domain of voice in Estonian. The thesis provides a thorough description of the Estonian voice category, through an in-depth study of four valency-reducing constructions: the impersonal, personal passive, generic apersonal, and anticausative. These all involve semantic and lexical-level changes to the argument structure of a predicate. In order to arrive at a satisfactory theoretical account of voice in Estonian, the analysis must consider semantic and pragmatic information alongside the realignment of syntactic rules linking grammatical functions with argument places. The status of verbal arguments undergoing demotion in valency-changing operations is shown to be crucial to the interpretations that the various constructions give rise to. The thesis establishes a hierarchy of implicit arguments as a key element of these differnces in interpretation. The impersonal argument, although non-overt, is shown to be psychologically and linguistically salient, being present for both semantic interpretation and such syntactic purposes as anaphoric reference. The impersonal actor is argued to be only slightly demoted, the more important property assigned to the actor argument of impersonals being that of non-specificity. Following the impersonal on the proposed Demotion Hierarchy is the personal passive, with a true demoted agent, which can, however, be re-established through an agentive adverbial. Generic apersonal constructions have a less accessible actor referent, whose interpretation crucially involves pragmatic inferencing. The anticausative retains only a single undergoer argument in its logical structure, which reveals both proto-agent and proto-patient characteristics. Only this derivationally formed predicate truly deletes its actor argument.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available