This paper is concerned with the problem of argument-function mismatch observed in the apparent subject-object inversion in Chinese consumption verbs, e.g., chi 'eat' and he 'drink', and accommodation verbs, e.g., zhu 'live' and shui 'sleep'. These verbs seem to allow the linking of [agent-SUBJ theme-OBJ] as well as [agent-OBJ theme-SUBJ], but only when the agent is also the semantic role denoting the measure or extent of the action. The account offered is formulated within LFG's lexical mapping theory. Under the simplest and also the strictest interpretation of the one-to-one argument-function mapping principle (or the theta-criterion), a composite role such as ag-ext receives syntactic assignment via one composing role only. One-to-one linking thus entails the suppression of the other composing role. Apparent subject-object inversion occurs when the more prominent agent role is suppressed and thus allows the less prominent extent role to dictate the linking of the entire ag-ext composite role. This LMT account also potentially facilitates a natural explanation of markedness among the competing syntactic structures.
<P>Conference name: Annual Meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society</P>
<P>Conference location: Brisbane, Australia</P>
<P>Conference dates: 7-9 July, 2006</P>