Argument structure in nominalization

Paul Law


This paper is concerned with the interpretation and the projection of argument structure in nominalization. More specifically, the issues are to account for how we come to understand (1a) and the subject John in the example in (1b) as referring to someone who employs Bill, and whether we have reason to think that Bill (or the whole of-phrase) in (1a) is an argument of employ, on a par with the familiar case in (2a), where the enemy and the city can be taken to be arguments of the head noun destruction (Chomsky 1970):

(1) a. The employer of Bill.
b. John employed Bill.

(2) a. The enemy's destruction of the city.
b. The enemy destroyed the city.

In terms of theta-theory, we have to explain how the noun phrase in (1a) and the subject John in the example in (1b) are understood to be the Agent of the verb employ and to see whether the argument structure of the verb base in nominalization is projected in syntax.


Argument Structure; Nominalization; Theta-role Assignment; Control; Derivation

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