What lies behind dative/accusative alternations in Romance

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This paper accounts for dative/accusative alternations in several Romance languages with verbs with one complement of person, such as Catalan telefonar [DAT a la Roser]/telefonar [ACC la Roser] ‘to phone Roser’. Although the paper focuses on Catalan and Spanish, reference is also made to Italian Southern dialects and Asturian. Regardless of their case-marking, these complements are always Goals of unergative verbs: if dative-marked, they behave as expected; if accusative-marked, they instantiate what we call Differential Indirect Object Marking (following Bilous 2011). The two options of case-assignment are due to two different sorts of Low Applicatives, one Romance-like (the dative-assigning one) and the other English-like (the accusative-assigning one). The postulation of an Applicative Head with our apparently unergative verbs follows from analysing them as hidden transitive verbs (light verb + cognate noun).


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