The English middle is well-known as a structure to express a property of a patient. In performing the same function, different languages seem to take different syntactic devices. More particularly, one group of languages including English employs unma ...
The English middle is well-known as a structure to express a property of a patient. In performing the same function, different languages seem to take different syntactic devices. More particularly, one group of languages including English employs unmarked active verb forms but the other group of languages including Korean makes use of marked verb forms. As for the latter, the ways of markedness are different from language to language; to convey a property of a patient, languages like Dutch, German, and Russian use verbs with a reflexive morpheme whereas those like Mandarin Chinese and Canadian French use an affix. Similarly, Korean verbs are associated with an inflectional morpheme.
Although the name, ‘middle’, has been given based on ‘an active verb passes on a passive meaning’, it also has significance in the respect that an entity whose ability determines success of the event is the one affected by the event. Focussing on the latter semantic function, the structures above are defined as the middle construction in this thesis; the middle is a structure that expresses an acted-upon property of a sentential subject.
This thesis investigates the event structure that the middle implies at the underlying level. A property of a patient in the middle is formed on the basis of a potential event set which recursively arise at the semantic level. In this respect, one sub-type of the Korean passive can be included in the universal middle; it displays a property of an affected subject and this property is derived from the underlying set of events.
To prove the recursiveness of the middle is a universal factor, this thesis chooses the sub-type of the Korean passive naming it as the Korean middle passive and discloses the lay-out of its underlying event structure with that of the English middle.
The recursive event structure of the middle is unveiled through a filtering process; a) [+PTEL]—potential telicity feature of a verb: it refers to the telicity that segregates the potential events underlain in the middle construction. b) [-TER]—non-terminativity feature of a verb: it is the opposite feature of [+TER]. The event described by [+TER] verbs imply complete terminations. c) [+REB]—reboundability feature of VP: it determines a recursive relation between the event and the internal argument. When the event structure of the middle meets the conditions in the filtering order, the highest VP becomes atelic and be ready to describe a state—a property of the middle subject.
On the other hand, since the event structure is assumed only in the semantic tier, it is discussed and proved that the middle is a result of a syntactic movement; the internal argument of the middle is base generated from the VP internal position and lands on the sentential subject position. In this respect, the middle deserves a member of the IAESs (internal argument externalizing structures) with the passive and the ergative.
However, since the middle’s internal argument has distinctive reasons to externalize, examination on the IAESs’ underlying transitivity is followed; among the underlying transitivity features of participant, kinesis, agentivity, volitionality, and affectedness, the latter three factors turn out essential to enable the externalization of the middle’s internal argument.
Also, discussed are the legitimate reasons to single the Korean middle passive out from the general Korean passive; the distinctiveness that the Korean middle passive has is released in case marking, adverbials, tenses, and postpositional phrases to mark a specific agent.