The Distinction Between Unaccusative and Unergative Verbs in Turkish: An Offline and an Eye Tracking Study of Split Intransitivity

Deniz ZeyrekMiddle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
Cengiz AcarturkMiddle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey

Abstract

The Unaccusativity Hypothesis (UH) holds that intransitive verbs are divided into two broad classes, namely unaccusatives and unergatives. While there is evidence that the UH holds cross-linguistically, it is known that languages do not divide the intransitives into two uniform groups. We investigate the unaccusative-unergative distinction in Turkish by an offline grammaticality judgment task using a visual analog scale and by running an eye tracking experiment to tap on cognitive processing of split intransitivity. Cluster analyses indicate that the results of two experiments are broadly compatible, i.e., native speakers represent intransitive verbs in two classes, as the UH predicts. However, the offline experiment results specify uncontrolled process verbs as unaccusative, whereas the eye-gaze data characterize them as unergative. This result lends partial support for Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy. We also suggest that the uncontrolled process verb class might be where the unaccusative-unergative split occurs in Turkish.

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The Distinction Between Unaccusative and Unergative Verbs in Turkish: An Offline and an Eye Tracking Study of Split Intransitivity (276 KB)



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