Uniformity of Theta-Assignment Hypothesis

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The Uniformity of Theta-Assignment Hypothesis (UTAH), proposed in Baker (1988), states that identical thematic relationships between items are represented by identical structural relationships between these items at the level of D-structure.


Assuming that Mary in (ia) is in the same thematic relationship with give as in (ib), Baker proposes that the D-structure of (ia) is identical to that of (ib) and that the S-structure of (ia) is derived as in (ii) (by invisibly incorporating to in the verb and moving Mary to the left of a book).

(i)	a.	John gave Mary a book
	b.	John gave a book to Mary
(ii)		John gave+toi Maryj a book ti tj

The UTAH has given rise to analyses in cases where the assumption of a D-structural identity is far from obvious, e.g. the pair in (iii). Cf. Hale and Keyser (2002).

(iii)	a.	John saddled the horse
	b.	John put a saddle on the horse


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Baker, Mark C. 1988. Incorporation: A Theory of Grammatical Function Changing. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Baker, Mark C. 1997. Thematic roles and syntactic structure., Haegeman, L. (ed.), Elements of Grammar., 73-137, Kluwer Academic Publishers
  • Hale, K. and S.J. Keyser 2002. Prolegomenon to a Theory of Argument Structure, MIT Press, Cambridge MA.
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