Our next colloquium in the series is happening this Friday! The talk will be given by Dr. Kyle Johnson (University of Massachusetts Amherst) on Friday, November 11th at 3:30pm at the Education building, room 624.
Title: Implicit arguments as Incorporated Theta-roles
Some verbs are capable of being used without an expression of their arguments. The direct and indirect objects of eat and throw are standard examples.
(1) a. Marlys ate cake. Marlys ate.
b. Marlys threw the ball to Sam. Marlys threw the ball.
The meanings of eat and throw preserve the θ-roles that cake and to Sam bear, even when those arguments are not present. Those θ-roles are understood to be existentially closed. They are said to be implicit when this happens. The ability for a θ-role to be implicit seems to be idiosyncratically controlled by the verb, but it does not extend to external arguments. To make an external θ-role implicit, a valency changing operation is required. An external/internal argument contrast of this sort is also found in many kinds of Noun Incorporation constructions. And the lexically idiosyncratic nature of making a θ-role implicit also seems to be a feature of some Noun Incorporation constructions. Martí (2015) argues that the syntax and semantics of Noun Incorporation underlies making a θ-role implicit. I will pursue that thesis in this talk. I will suggest that we should think of θ-roles as being kinds of nominals, and sketch a syntax that makes sense of that idea. One of its consequences is that θ-roles can undergo Incorporation, and this is how implicit arguments are achieved.