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

On the relation between labilizations and neuter gender: Evidence from the Greek diachrony

Eleni Karantzola and Nikolaos Lavidas
From the journal Linguistics

Abstract

This paper considers labile verbs, i.e., verbs that use the same morphology for the causative and the anticausative reading, and how this lability pattern has evolved and spread in relation to case alignment and, specifically, to the lack of case distinctions between the nominative and the accusative with neuter DPs. In the first part of the study, we examine the voice distinctions in the history of the Greek language, showing that the use of the same voice morphology (i.e., active) for causative and anticausative readings increases in Hellenistic Greek and spreads progressively until Early Modern Greek, as indicated by empirical evidence in dialectal texts. The second part of the study attributes this pattern to the lack of the nominative-accusative case distinction in neuter nouns that in turn can be interpreted as either objects of a transitive (causative) verb or subjects of an intransitive verb (anticausative). In this aspect, neuter nouns demonstrate a type of split ergativity in the Greek labile alternations which thus require a split ergativity analysis based on DP features.

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

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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