Implicit Arguments in English Middles

  • Published : 2001.06.01


In this study I investigate two implicit arguments in English middles: discharged argument and event argument. I argue that in middle formation external argument is discharged and event argument is suppressed. The proposal can account for the problems with the previous studies (Williams 1981; Keyser and Reoper 1984: Roberts 1987: Fagan 1988, 1992: Chung 2000). When a middle derives from the corresponding transitive verb, the subject argument is discharged, being an implicit argument. Argument discharge is different from argument suppression in the passives and argument deletion in the ergatives. I also argue that event argument is suppressed in middle formation. Event argument suppression is supported by the following: (i) The transitive verbs are always eventive but the corresponding middles are stative, and (ii) the middles are underlyingly eventive, (iii) the middles are “adorned” by certain manner adverbials.