Argument Positions and Voice Syntax

The syntactic representations of predicates and their arguments, in different grammatical voices

Since the mid-1990s, serious questions arose about the syntactic position of external arguments, and their relationship with the lexical predicate. The proliferation of (neo-)Davidsonian analyses of event semantics and the increasing empirical evidence that syntax more transparently feeds semantic interpretation led to the conclusion that the external argument of a predicate is introduced by a separate functional head (e.g., little v, Voice). This research project aims to answer questions about whether Voice and little v are different, how many functional heads there are in the argument structure domain, whether passives are “built on top of” active structures, how middles figure into generative analyses, and whether all arguments are severed from the lexical predicate like external arguments are. In addition, it explores how a passive/middle-like Voice analysis can be extended to tough-constructions and clausal complements of too/enough to solve some of the locality issues raised in their generative analyses.

some work in this project

  1. Ahn, Byron. 2022. Mapping OUT- Argument Structure. Syntax 25. DOI:
  2. Ahn, Byron. 2018, September. How to ‘Suppress’ an Internal Argument. Talk presented at 2018 Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain. Sheffield, UK.
  3. Ahn, Byron. 2015, March. Out-Sourcing Internal Arguments. Talk presented at WCCFL 33, Simon Fraser University.
  4. Ahn, Byron & Craig Sailor. 2014, January. Obligatory Object Gaps in Infintival Clauses. Talk presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the LSA, Minneapolis, MN.