Entailment-based Linking Theory and Some Implications for Universal Language

Luis González 1
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1Wake Forest University

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This article shows that Dowty (1991)’s proto-agent and proto- patient set of entailments can be reduced to two discrete entailments: an unergative entailment and an unaccusative entailment. The former is an adaptation of –er noun formation in the sense that not all –er nouns in English refer to subjects, but all subjects of (di)transitive predicates and a subset of intransitive ones (the unergatives) allower noun formation. The latter entailment was proposed as a participle-adjective conversion rule by Bresnan (1982). Using these two entailments as tests for unaccusativity and unergativity, this article shows a more restrictive and predictive linking theory than Dowty (1991) and Wechsler (1995). Many verbs listed by them as exceptions (lexical doublets, nonstandard lexicalizations, syncategorematic verbs) are accounted for with the same Verber/Verbed Argument Selection Principle that accounts for Dowty’s principle and for Wechsler’s three linking rules.

Keywords: argument selection principle; linking; macro-roles; proto-roles; Unaccusative Hypothesis



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