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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2009, Vol. 40, No. 4, Pages 686-700
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2009.40.4.686)
© 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Themes, Cumulativity, and Resultatives: Comments on Kratzer 2003
Article PDF (93.09 KB)

According to Kratzer (2003), the thematic relation Theme, construed very generally, is not a “natural relation.” She says that the “natural relations” are “cumulative” and argues that Theme is not cumulative, in contrast to Agent. It is therefore best, she concludes, to remove Theme from the palette of semantic analysis. Here I oppose the premises of Kratzer's argument and then introduce a new challenge to her conclusion, based on the resultative construction in Mandarin. The facts show that Theme and Agent are on equal footing, insofar as neither has the property that Kratzer's conjecture requires of a natural relation.