Latvian passives – personal, impersonal and evidential

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The present article discusses the nature of the Latvian passive and, more specifically, the impersonal passive. It is argued that Latvian has indeed an impersonal passive that shows no signs of turning into an active impersonal, a development that has occurred in the history of Polish and could be an ongoing process in contemporary Lithuanian. Several lexical restrictions on the derivation of the Latvian constructions under discussion shows that they are indeed impersonal passives rather than active impersonals. Conspicuously absent, however, is a ban on the passivization of unaccusatives, as we find it in a number of languages that have a typical impersonal passive. It is suggested that the rise of an evidential passive might have played a certain role in the lifting of the restrictions on the passivization of unaccusatives in Baltic.


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