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Agent, Purpose, and Russian Middles

James S. Levine and Charles Jones
Journal of Slavic Linguistics
Vol. 4, No. 1 (winter—spring 1996), pp. 50-75
Published by: Slavica Publishers
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24598983
Page Count: 26
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Agent, Purpose, and Russian Middles
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Abstract

Given a current theoretical analysis of passive and middle constructions in Russian (e.g., Babby 1993, within the Government and Binding syntactic theory) the question of what conditions affect the distribution of agent-oriented adverbs and clauses arises in an interesting way. In this paper we argue against the notion that lexical assignment of some kind of Agent thematic role to subject position is relevant to the distribution of these adjuncts. Instead, we offer an account of their distribution in terms of a more formal property of the argument structure of certain verbs; namely, the absence of lexically determined thematic content for the verb's characteristic external argument.

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