By Dominique Le Fur
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Patients in Igbo and Mandarin 7 to emerge which are otherwise obscured by independent differences in syntax (Williams 2005). In this paper I rely on it only to limit the scope of discussion: I will discuss only transitive RCs. g. Dowty 1979, Larson 1991). It is assumed, that is, that M contains no argument positions. Instead the means verb combines directly with R to the exclusion of the object, (10). 4 (10) [ Object [ Vmeans R ] ] (linear order irrelevant) Insofar as this analysis is correct for a given RC, the construction will provide a diagnostic environment.
Ylfu xï -le jiëjië. ' 16 Alexander Williams (59) ylfu χι lèi -le jiëjië. ' (ex. Ren 2001: 326, trans. AW) In simple clauses, (58), the verb xi 'wash' is constrained to find its patient in the object and its agent in the subject. Yet in the RC (59), the subject is understood as naming the patient of the means event, and the object, its agent: big sister washes the clothes. So constraints on the correspondence between grammatical and thematic relations in simple clauses are apparently voided when the verb is in M.
Wliat the NAT asks us to assume is just that languages may exhibit characteristic differences in how many arguments they assign to a verb lexically, within the range allowed by the number of participants in its event. 18 This seems a plausible assumption. Now let us consider alternative accounts. How might one model the Mandarin and Igbo data while assuming, contra the NAT, that (at least) patients are arguments of the verb? I see three clear possibilities, but I think they all fail as explanations.