Causation and Reflexivity in Kannada

  • Jeffrey Lidz
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 61)

Standard conceptions of the lexicon-syntax interface assume that morphologically complex words are constructed in the lexicon and then serve as the atomic objects for syntactic computation. On this view, morphologically complex words are the terminal nodes in a syntactic phrase-marker, their internal structure invisible to syntactic operations. The argument-taking properties of words can be altered by rules which apply inside the lexicon, often with a concomitant morphophonological change, but these properties cannot be affected by syntactic operations. In this paper, I explore an alternative grammatical architecture in which morphology applies to the output of the syntactic component (cf. Halle and Marantz 1993, Marantz 1997). Morphologically complex words, on this view, reflect properties of syntactic structure, which includes argument-structure information.

The argument proceeds from an examination of Kannada “valencychanging” morphology, revealing that lexical properties alone cannot explain the distribution of the reflexive and causative morphemes. The analysis builds upon the conclusion of Lidz (1996, 2001c) that the Kannada “verbal reflexive” is best understood with respect to its relationship to causativity and not as a marker of semantic reflexivity. Moreover, given certain independently motivated assumptions about the representation of anaphora, Kannada reflexive morphology provides an argument that the morphological component takes syntactic representations as input and hence that morphological structure is an interpretation of syntactic structure, not the input to it. The resultant theory is one in which the morphological component determines, after some amount of syntactic computation, how a given syntactic representation should be pronounced. Simply put, lexical insertion applies late in the derivation, possibly at LF. The so-called reflexive morpheme argues strongly for a morphological component which is postsyntactic because it is only after certain syntactic operations have applied that the environment for the insertion of this morpheme is met. A theory in which morphologically complex words are constructed prior to syntax cannot explain the distribution of this morpheme. Thus, we need a grammatical architecture in which morphology takes articulated clausal structures as input.


Syntactic Structure Complex Word External Argument Syntactic Representation Syntactic Operation 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Lidz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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