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The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: van der Hulst, Harry

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Volume 34, Issue 1


Spanish participios activos are adjectival antipassives

Grant Armstrong
Published Online: 2016-04-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2016-0007


In many languages a set of adjectives are characterized by their “past/passive” participial morphology. Lexicalist and syntactic approaches to word formation converge on the claim that such adjectives can be derived from verbal inputs with no external argument but never from verbal inputs with an external argument. That is, there are “adjectival passives” but no “adjectival antipassives” marked with the same morphology. I argue that a sub-class of adjectives marked with the “past/passive” participial morpheme –do in Spanish, labeled participios activos in descriptive grammars, should be treated as adjectival antipassives in precisely this sense. I propose that Spanish has an Asp head that (i) is spelled out with “past/passive” participial morphology and (ii) selects an unergative verbal input creating a state/property whose argument corresponds to the external argument of that verbal source. If on the right track, the proposal supports the existence of a typology of adjectivizing heads that are spelled out uniformly with “past/passive” participial morphology but must be distinguished in terms of selectional and semantic properties (Bruening 2014, Word formation is syntactic: Adjectival passives in English. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 32. 363–422; Embick 2004, On the structure of resultative participles in English. Linguistic Inquiry 35. 355–392). It differs from previous approaches in claiming that such a typology must include root-derived adjectives, as well as ‘active (=unergative)’ and ‘passive’ deverbal adjectives.

Keywords: adjectival participles; argument structure; distributed morphology


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-04-15

Published in Print: 2019-05-27

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review, Volume 34, Issue 1, Pages 1–37, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2016-0007.

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