Unaccusative verb

The term unakkusativisches verb (also: ergatives verb ) refers to linguistics, a class of verbs that are externally marked as intransitive verbs, so the only grammatical supplements have a subject in the nominative case, but treated according to different other grammatical criteria this supplement to as otherwise the direct object is treated.

Unakkusativität in languages ​​like German is thus a covert grammatical category that expresses itself only in the behavior of verbs and their subjects, but does not appear in word forms. Some other languages ​​also show in the allocation of case or in the personal forms of the verb ( congruence ) of two groups of verbs, namely those which mark their only supplement as a subject, and others who mark their only supplement as an object; in such cases one speaks but rather of a "split intransitivity " or an active - inactive language. In both cases, similar groups of verbs seem to be involved, so that there arises a problem, declared which factor in the importance of this behavior verbs.

Problems of terminology

The term " unakkusativisch " goes back to work by Perlmutter (1978). Synonym is the concept of " ergativen verb" in the sense of Burzio (1986 ) (which term, however, has nothing to do with the name of an ergative case ).

Since the Unakkusativ thesis there is a division of the class of traditionally " intransitive " verbs mentioned, there is the problem of finding for verbs with real subject as the only argument is a unique name. In connection with the terminology of Burzio (1986) is the opposite of unakkusativischen (or " ergativen " ) verbs - that is, the "normal" intransitive verbs - often referred to as " unergativ ". Another possibility is to replace the traditional term " intransitive " with the term " digit verb" ( Levin & Rappaport as 1995), and this category then in " intransitive (in the narrow sense) " and " unakkusativ " divide.

Grammatical effects that show Unakkusativität

Formation of the " past participle "

In German participles can be derived which can then be used as an adjective of many verbs. The so-called " passive participle " here refers normally to the object of the underlying verb (hence it is often referred to as " passive " means ):

Brought the wine - " the wine " = y: x brings y with the emptied trash cans - " the garbage cans " = y: x y empties the dressed- bath - " the bathroom " = y: x y dressing Intransitive verbs can not occur in this construction usually, this is explained by the fact that the participle can not relate to the subject of the underlying verb, as can be seen already in the examples above.

* not sung the man with "the man" as x: x sings (y) the clock struck with " the clock " as x: x beats the spruced housewife with " housewife " as x: x dressing (y). Among intransitive verbs but there is a group of verbs that are exceptions (so that the term " passive participle " is no longer applicable here):

The eingeschlafene dog - "the dog " = x: x falls asleep the post arrived - "the Post " = x: x arrives the rusted hinge - " the hinge " = x: x rusted The verbs sleep, arrive rust are now examples of verbs that treat their only supplement ( x) so as only objects can be treated ( ie the y from the first sample group ) - these verbs are thus examples of unakkusativische verbs.

Impersonal passive

In German, transitive and intransitive verbs can appear in a passive form. Every time is not taken over the underlying ( "logical" ) subject in the sentence in the passive; was the verb transitive, instead places the underlying object to the subject position. Was the underlying verb intransitive, after eradication of the underlying subject any supplementary remains and there is an impersonal construction without a subject:

X emptied the garbage cans -> the trash cans were emptied x repaired the engine -> the engine was repaired smoked x -> ( So ) was smoked. cleaned x -> ( All day ) was cleaned However, some intransitive verbs do not permit such an impersonal passive, among which are exactly the verbs which prove to terms of Partizipbildung as unakkusativisch. Thus, the examples show the effect that these verbs do not treat their supplement as otherwise a subject is treated:

X asleep -> * not: Then was asleep x arrived -> * not: Since it has been arrived (of the post) x rusty -> * not: Everywhere was rusted resultative adjectives

In the resultative construction is a verb that denotes an activity connected with an adjective, which is called the result of this activity:

Rub the table dry - rub activity causes the result that the table is dry the plate and eating empty - eating activity causes the result that the plate is empty the handkerchief wet cry - cry activity causes the result is that the handkerchief is wet In general, the result is predicated of the object of design, the object can be re- introduced along with the adjective and must not be demanded from the verb complement (as in the examples above ). Under this rule, a result can therefore not be predicated of the subject. If this content reference should still be made ​​, but there is the possibility to additionally introduce a meaningless empty reflexive. This has the effect that a purely formal is a grammatical object is available that can deliver the support of the result:

The patient has located sore - activity lie ( the patient ) causes the result that the patient is sore She laughed themselves to death - laugh activity causes the result that "they dead" ( in a figurative sense). Some verbs now allow no such reflexive, instead they occur in constructions in which the resultative adjective but apparently refers to the subject. This is in German, although very rare, but in English easier.

( that ) the engine was running hot - * not: that the engine ran hot English: the door slid open - * not: the door slid open Itself the door slid open ( ' the door slid open ') The verbs in this latter construction are in turn to describe so that they treat their subject as otherwise the grammatical object is treated. This is also the possibility of a Partizipbildung as the overheated engine. The rule that the resultative adjective must refer to the object is observed if the subjects of this design are to be regarded as the underlying objects. At the same time, this also explains why the reflexive can not even be used in addition: the grammatical function of the object, it would take is already occupied by this analysis of the unit, which is seemingly subject.

Auxiliary verbs in the perfect tense

Various other criteria for different languages ​​called that distinguish unakkusativische verbs, but are not applicable or in dispute in German. Frequently, for example, the choice of the auxiliary verb in the perfect tense is called as a criterion: Unakkusativische verbs should tend to be formed with a " to be " perfect, real intransitive with a " have " Perfect. However, it is not clear why this connection is made ​​, and also can be found in different languages ​​cases where a " be " Perfect is extended to verbs that should not be unakkusativisch, eg motion verbs such as " run, swim " etc. in the German or weather verbs such as " rain " in Italian (the Italian form of "ha" would correspond to German " has " and " è " correspond German "is" ):

Grammatical structure

The question of whether the Unakkusativitätseffekte say that supplementing these verbs is actually an object is discussed controversially.

One possible position is that the effects, according to which a supplement such as an object is treated only lie in the semantic interpretation and no grammatical effects.

The opposite view, which is represented by many followers of transformational grammar, says that in an underlying representation of the relevant supplements are actually used as object of the verb, and pass through a transformation in the subject position, where they receive the Nominativkasus. Against this background, the term " unakkusativisch " to understand: There are verbs that actually have only a grammatical object, but they can not assign a Akkusativkasus (as an effect of Burzios generalization). As can be seen in the examples of the resultative construction, normal intransitive verbs ( see the examples eat, cry, lie, laugh ) actually, in principle, able to appear with a direct object, run only the verbs ( hot), slide, etc. can this is not.

Derivation from the verb meaning and questions of language comparison

Since the phenomenon of Unakkusativität was discovered, it has been attempted to explain it from the signification of verbs. A simple approach is to moor the phenomenon of semantic roles, and suggest that unakkusativische verbs are those in which the semantic role of the argument is the same as usual with grammatical objects of transitive verbs. For example, there are at the verb " break " a variant as a transitive verb, and one with only one argument, which is unakkusativisch. In the latter actually exists only the argument corresponding to the transitive construction the object. It might therefore be expected that it is also in some respects should behave like an object:

The child breaks the cup   The cup is broken Accordingly, when the only argument the undergoer bears a related role, Unakkusativität would follow if it carries a an agent related role, would be a real intransitive ( unergatives ) verb arise. From an early date, however, pointed to individual linguistic differences in the behavior of verbs that are at least equivalent translation, for example, the various classification of verbs such as die, sweat or blush in different languages. Other authors have since argued that subtle differences in the meaning of such verbs could explain the oscillation between Unakkusativität / intransitivity - that distinguish, for example, Italian arrossire ( blush, translated as English "blush " ) by the Dutch blozen ( also translated into English as "blush " ) that arrossire inevitably means a change while ndl. blozen a constant state informative. From such a difference could arise that the Italian verb 's argument Object Properties awards (ie, change ), and the meaning similar Dutch verb does not do this (because physical states count as a kind of caused situations, ie in the relevant sense agen -like verbs yield ). An explanation of why the Italian verb for " blush " (or " blush" ) is unakkusativisch, while the Dutch verb it is not, therefore, could depend on differences that are finer than conventional semantic roles.

Summary, the following grouping of verb meanings results ( their assignment yet, as indicated, some may still be wavering or controversial ):

Real intransitive verbs:

  • Agentive verbs ( conscious causation ); e.g. race, work
  • Verbs that denote the involuntary bodily processes, such as sneeze, bleed, sweat ( debatable )
  • Not agentive verbs whose only addition otherwise the internal causal factor of a situation includes, for example, shine, blow bubbles, stink

Unakkusativische verbs

  • Verbs of change of state, such as are red, break ( itr. ) arrive
  • Verbs of directed change ( with no fixed final state ), eg cool, rise
  • Agentive verbs if they also indicate change in the agent, eg stand up
  • Different verbs that denote neither a causal factor or a change of state or purposeful change, eg roll, exist.

The existence of an unexplained residue of "other " verbs leads Levin & Rappaport (1995 ) to the position that while the status of a Verbergänzung as true subject of the existence of certain semantic factors dependent (which were referred to above as " Agensartigkeit "); but Unakkusativität even performing the normal case in the rest as a single argument behaves as a verb. Thus, there is no uniform semantic factor, would have the unakkusativische verbs together, because it is essentially acted to a residual category according to the determination of "real " subjects simply remains. ( However, it must continue to be the factor taken as an independent cause of Unakkusativität " directed change " because it possibly before agen -like properties still takes precedence).