In this paper I identify the factors that can skew the result of two standard unaccusativity diagnostics in Russian (distributive po-phrase and verb prefixation): (i) animacy of the subject (ii) verbal aspect. I introduce a new class of data, which reveals a contrast that is characteristic of all unaccusative predicates: Experiencer/Theme interaction. Unlike the well-known agentivity effects (Permutter and Postal (1984), Hoekstra and Mulder (1990), Zaenen (1993)), Experiencer/Theme interaction is linked to animacy, but not to volitionality. The connection between animacy and an Experiencer is formalized as an Experiencer condition: the Experiencer role must be assigned if the sole argument is animate. I propose a novel view of argument distribution whereby animate arguments can be base generated VP-externally. Variable applicability of unaccusative tests to telic/atelic verb forms results from the interaction between the Experiencer condition, the structural view of telicity (Folli and Harley (2005), Ramchand (2008)) and world knowledge.
"On the Role of Experiencer in the Interaction of Aspect and Unaccusativity in Russian,"
University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Vol. 18:
1, Article 11.
Available at: https://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol18/iss1/11