- Englisch (4) (remove)
- The properties of anticausatives crosslinguistically (2006)
- The causative/anticausative alternation has been the topic of much typological and theoretical discussion in the linguistic literature. This alternation is characterized by verbs with transitive and intransitive uses, such that the transitive use of a verb V means roughly "cause to Vintransitive" (see Levin 1993). The discussion revolves around two issues: the first one concerns the similarities and differences between the anticausative and the passive, and the second one concerns the derivational relationship, if any, between the transitive and intransitive variant. With respect to the second issue, a number of approaches have been developed. Judging the approach conceptually unsatisfactory, according to which each variant is assigned an independent lexical entry, it was concluded that the two variants have to be derivationally related. The question then is which one of the two is basic and where this derivation takes place in the grammar. Our contribution to this discussion is to argue against derivational approaches to the causative / anticausative alternation. We focus on the distribution of PPs related to external arguments (agent, causer, instrument, causing event) in passives and anticausatives of English, German and Greek and the set of verbs undergoing the causative/anticausative alternation in these languages. We argue that the crosslinguistic differences in these two domains provide evidence against both causativization and detransitivization analyses of the causative / anticausative alternation. We offer an approach to this alternation which builds on a syntactic decomposition of change of state verbs into a Voice and a CAUS component. Crosslinguistic variation in passives and anticausatives depends on properties of Voice and its combinations with CAUS and various types of roots.
- Instrument subjects are agents or causers (2006)
- It has often been noticed that one syntactic argument position can be realized by elements which seem to realize different thematic roles. This is notably the case with the external argument position of verbs of change of state which licenses volitional agents, instruments or natural forces/causers, showing the generality and abstractness of the external argument relation. (1) a. John broke the window (Agent) b. The hammer broke the window (Instrument) c. The storm broke the window (Causer) In order to capture this generality, Van Valin & Wilkins (1996) and Ramchand (2003) among others have proposed that the thematic role of the external argument position is in fact underspecified. The relevant notion is that of an effector (in Van Valin & Wilkins) or of an abstract causer/initiator (in Ramchand). In this paper we argue against a total underspecification of the external argument relation. While we agree that (1b) does not instantiate an instrument theta role in subject position, we argue that a complete underspecification of the external theta-position is not feasible, but that two types of external theta roles have to be distinguished, Agents and Causers. Our arguments are based on languages where Agents and Causers show morpho-syntactic independence (section 2.1) and the behavior of instrument subjects in English, Dutch, German and Greek (section 2.2 and 3). We show that instrument subjects are either Agent or Causer like. In section (4) we give an analysis how arguments realizing these thematic notions are introduced into syntax.
- Auxiliary selection and counterfactuality in the history of English and Germanic (2008)
- The retreat of BE as perfect auxiliary in the history of English is examined. Corpus data are presented showing that the initial advance of HAVE was most closely connected to a restriction against BE in past counterfactuals. Other factors which have been reported to favor the spread of HAVE are either dependent on the counterfactual effect, or significantly weaker in comparison. It is argued that the effect can be traced to the semantics of the BE perfect, which denoted resultativity rather than anteriority proper. Related data from other older Germanic and Romance languages are presented, and finally implications for existing theories of auxiliary selection stemming from the findings presented are discussed.
- A note on non-canonical passives : the case of the get-passive (2005)
- In many languages, a passive-like meaning may be obtained through a noncanonical passive construction. The get passive (1b) in English, the se faire passive (2b) in French and the kriegen passive (3b) in German represent typical manifestations. This squib focuses on the behavior of the get-passive in English and discusses a number of restrictions associated with it as well as the status of get.