Transitivization, causative constructions, and the thematic-licensing of external arguments


  • Hazel Mitchley Rutgers University



argument structure, external argument introduction, transitivization, causativization


I argue that the head responsible for thematically licensing the external argument is neither Voice nor v, but instead a distinct θ-licensing head, L, which intervenes between Voice and v. Evidence comes from Kinande, where I show that the 'lexical causative' is not v, Voice, or a Cause head which introduces an event -- it is purely a θ-licensor. I then turn to Kinande's productive causative constructions, and show that in causatives of transitive verbs the Cause head embeds a complement which includes agentive semantics (i.e. it embeds the head which θ-licenses the external argument of the caused event), but the complement nonetheless  does not include the VoiceP phase.  I ultimately argue for a bifurcation of what is traditionally understood as VoiceP into two distinct phrases: a θ-Licensing Phrase (LP), where the θ-role for the external argument is introduced, and VoiceP, which is the locus of the phase boundary, and is where the external argument merges.




How to Cite

Mitchley, Hazel. 2022. “Transitivization, Causative Constructions, and the Thematic-Licensing of External Arguments”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 7 (1): 5244.