Teleology and animacy in external arguments

Raffaella Folli, Heidi Harley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


In this paper, we consider a number of phenomena in English, and other languages (Italian, Greek, Russian) involving external arguments where prima facie animacy seems to constrain grammaticality. Our discussion comes to the conclusions that, at least in the cases under analysis, a more appropriate notion should be evoked, i.e. the notion of teleological capability and that the inherent abilities of an entity to participate in an event is at the basis of its grammatical occurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-202
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008



  • Agent
  • Animacy
  • Aspect
  • Cause
  • Imperfect
  • Little v
  • Sound emission
  • Teleology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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