Sonja Riesberg, Beatrice Primus
October 22, 2015
It has been argued in the literature that morpho-syntactically agents are universally more prominent than patients. At first sight, this claim seems to be challenged by so called symmetrical voice languages because these languages show no preference for agents to be the privileged syntactic argument (PSA). They do thus not display an obvious syntactic prominence of agents. However, this paper will argue that even symmetrical voice languages show instances of agent prominence. These instances are not reflected in a default linking of agents to PSA function, but rather in a slightly more subtle manner: First, agents always function as binders to reflexive pronouns, regardless of position or grammatical function. Second, agent properties like volitionality, ability and control are reflected in verbal morphology, even in undergoer voice construction in which the agent is not the PSA. This is the case in potentive, stative, and causative construction.