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On the notion of subject for subject-oriented adverbs

From: Language
Volume 89, Number 3, September 2013
pp. 586-618 | 10.1353/lan.2013.0047



This article investigates the nature of predication of so-called subject-oriented adverbs in English. It is noted that there are both conceptual and empirical issues to be addressed. On the conceptual side, there is no consensus in previous studies on what exactly the notion of subject is for these adverbs and why these adverbs have an orientation to the subject. On the empirical side, there are circumstances in which some of the adverbs seem to be construed with the object argument of the verb. This article focuses on these problems through an examination of the adverbs occurring in locative, passive, unaccusative, and resultative constructions. It is argued that when these adverbs seem to be associated with the object, they are predicated of a phonetically empty pronoun that occurs as the subject of a small clause, controlled by the object. Moreover, it is indicated that subject-oriented adverbs occurring in different positions across different constructions are all parasitically predicated of DPs that are introduced by a functional head in primary predication. Given the proposal made in recent studies that predication relationships between lexical categories and their external arguments in general are mediated by a functional head, it is claimed that subject-oriented adverbs also need to be supported by such a head to be associated with DPs. Thus, it is concluded that the notion of subject for these adverbs and their orientation are derived from the general theory of predication.

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