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The Theta SystemArgument Structure at the Interface$
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Martin Everaert, Marijana Marelj, and Tal Siloni

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199602513

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602513.001.0001

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To Have the Empty Theta‐Role

To Have the Empty Theta‐Role

(p.227) 9 To Have the Empty Theta‐Role
The Theta System

Peter Ackema

Marijana Marelj

Oxford University Press

In this chapter we argue that the semantically vacuous theta-role is not a conceptual artifact of Reinhart's Theta System, but that certain light verbs specify it as their basic theta-role. We focus on have and argue that - in all its guises – it is a light verb. The assumption that have assigns a semantically vacuous theta-role allows us to account for the array of constructions in which have occurs. The formalization of the light verb's thematic structure by utilizing the null cluster can account for the often-noted intuition that light verbs “do not predicate like main verbs” but predicate nonetheless. Positing a null cluster is a way of explaining why some sort of “Predicate Composition”/“Argument Fusion” has been argued to be obligatory in all instances that involve light verbs.

Keywords:   light verb, HAVE, semantically vacuous theta-role, theta-merger, auxiliary verb

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