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The main purpose of this study is to show that the locative alternation (LA) is an instantiation of an unaccusative construction. This point is supported by both syntactic evidence and a corpus analysis of subject placement in Spanish.
From a syntactic point of view, the prepositional objects that characterize the LA, which are conceptually necessary, are claimed to generate the argument structure for the whole sentence as an unaccusative construction: [VP D [V [PP]]]. This construction may either entail a notion of change of state or location when the PP is complex, or a pure state or location when the PP is simple. Furthermore, the controversial swarm verbs, a subtype within the locative alternation which has been described both as unergative and as unaccusative in the literature, are shown to display unaccusative properties when they enter the LA. In order to further support such claim, a corpus analysis of subject placement in Spanish is developed as a test to differentiate between unaccusative and unergative verbs. The results indicate that swarm verbs pattern together with unaccusative verbs as far as subject position is concerned, which corroborates the syntactic theory put forward in this research.

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