The properties of anticausatives crosslinguistically
- 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.