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Open Access On the inherently close relation of the verb and its direct object in ditransitive constructions

Evidence from Greek

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On the inherently close relation of the verb and its direct object in ditransitive constructions

Evidence from Greek

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This paper deals with the close relation between the verb (V) and its direct object (DO) in Greek ditransitive structures, bringing together a formal analysis of the inherent nature of this special bond and a performance motivated treatment of factors determining variation in linearisation, i.e. the effects of performance principles on the permutation of the original order of arguments. Thus, first, by means of lexico-syntactic criteria, we propose that Greek –a relatively free word order language– exhibits the asymmetry between the DO and the IO which has also been observed in other languages (e.g. English, Icelandic, and Mainland Scandinavian languages). On the basis of such criteria, we conclude that in the underlying structure of both the PP Object Construction (PPOC) and the Double Object Construction (DOC), the DO is a sister to V. This structural relationship, represented in the single tree diagram we propose for the two constructions, reveals the V-DO special affinity. Second, we investigate the factors involved in the alternation from the basic to the derived orders both in the PPOC and the DOC. Thus, we suggest that the derivation of the orders V-NPacc-PP and V-NPacc-NPgen from V-PP-NPacc and V-NPgen-NPacc, respectively, is motivated by a number of largely interrelated factors (e.g. information focus, internal complexity, and syntactic weight), which may function either individually or compositionally. Finally, it is observed that the insights about the special affinity between the V and its DO expressed in our formal account of ditransitive orders are also captured in Lascaratou's (1994) performance principles motivated analysis of a small corpus of Greek ditransitive constructions, in terms of the strong preference of the DO to be linearised immediately after the verb.


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