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Query Details


Query Subject:   Alternating Unaccusative Verbs and the Reflexive
Author:   Konrad Szczesniak
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Semantics
Syntax
Typology

Query:   Dear Linguists,

I am working on the much-discussed causative analysis of unaccusative verbs
and I'm looking for examples of the following phenomenon in as many
languages as possible:

It is a widely recognized regularity that alternating unaccusative verbs in
some languages (especially Romance and Slavic languages) require a
reflexive clitic in the intransitive/inchoative pattern. For example, in
Polish one says

Dziecko zamroziło mleko (The child froze the milk)
Mleko zamroziło SIE (The milk froze REFLEXIVE-SIE)

This fact is addressed and explained very well by most current approaches
to unaccusativity and the causative alternation. But what these approaches
don't capture very well is that in Polish (and probably in many other
languages), a sizable portion of such unaccusative verbs has non-reflexive
inchoative equivalents:

Mleko zamroziło SIE / Mleko zamarzło
Milk froze REFLEXIVE-SIE / Milk froze (non-reflexive [NR])

Now, the non-reflexive version does not participate in the causative
alternation:

*Dziecko zamarzło mleko (The child froze[NR] the milk)

Can you send me similar examples of non-reflexive non-alternating
unaccusative verbs in other languages - verbs which are only used in the
inchoative/intransitive structure? I would greatly appreciate examples both
from Slavic and Romance languages as well as ones from non-European
languages, which I will later post as a summary. Thank you.

Best regards,

Konrad Szczesniak
Institute of English
Silesian University
Poland
LL Issue: 16.1023
Date posted: 04-Apr-2005



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