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Building and Interpreting Possession Sentences$
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Neil Myler

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034913

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034913.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Building and Interpreting Possession Sentences

Neil Myler

The MIT Press

This chapter introduces the two major puzzles posed by possession sentences: the too-many-meanings puzzle and the too-many-(surface)-structures puzzle. The too-many-meanings puzzle is that languages often use the same construction to speak of having a car, having a sister, and having brown eyes, amongst other things, despite these relations being notionally distinct. The too-many-surface-structures puzzle is that languages differ radically in the argument structure used to convey the same possessive meanings. The chapter goes on to lay out the theory of the architecture of the grammar assumed in the main body of the book, and sketches how that architecture gives rise to a solution to both puzzles. A particularly important facet of this solution is the idea that a head which introduces a thematic role in the semantics might fail to take a specifier in the syntax, causing the relevant role to be saturated higher in the structure (Wood 2015)—a circumstance this book refers to as delayed gratification, and which turns out to be commonly attested in the typology of possession sentences. The core predictions of the present approach are presented. A concluding section summarizes the structure of the rest of the book.

Keywords:   Argument Structure, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics, Possession, Delayed Gratification, Copulas

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