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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 27, 2014

The problem with internally caused change-of-state verbs

  • Artemis Alexiadou EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistics


Internally caused change-of-state verbs have recently been established as alternating verbs in languages such as English and Greek, thus becoming an important component of any analysis of the causative alternation. Generally, this type of alternation qualifies as a labile one, as in both intransitive and transitive uses of such verbs the same form is used. The behavior of internally caused change-of-state verbs in the causative alternation, however, differs radically from that of verbs such as open, as they split into two subclasses: one that predominantly takes causer subjects (blossom), and one that behaves like open (ferment), being able to take agentive subjects as well. In this paper, I investigate the properties of internally caused change-of-state verbs in English and Greek, and offer an analysis thereof adopting the syntactic decomposition of causative predicates put forth in Alexiadou et al. (2006, in press), according to which the causative alternation is a Voice alternation. I argue that the subject of the transitive variant of internally caused change-of-state verbs of the ferment class is introduced in Spec,VoiceP, and as a result it is not thematically restricted to the role of causer. The subject of the blossom class is introduced in vP and thus is restricted to the causer role. This difference between the two classes of internally caused verbs change-of-state is reflected also in the impossibility of the blossom class to undergo passivization.

Published Online: 2014-6-27
Published in Print: 2014-7-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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