Non selected dative arguments in Spanish anticausative constructions

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This paper examines the notion of subject and subjecthood by analysing the properties of a construction found in Spanish, as well as in a variety of genetically quite different languages, in which a non-selected dative argument is added to an anticausative construction and may be interpreted as accidental or unintentional causer of the event. In particular we explore three hypotheses: (i) the addition of a dative argument to a typical anticausative structure requires the projection of a cause predicate in the syntax, in line with the analysis proposed by Schäfer (2008), among others; (ii) the dative argument is introduced by a high applicative phrase (Pylkkänen 2008) and behaves as a subject with respect to certain syntactic properties; in particular, it has properties akin to those of a quirky subject of the type found in languages such as Icelandic or Georgian (Sigurðsson 1996, 2002a, b), and (iii) the subject properties displayed by the noncore dative mostly follow from the fact that it participates in the first (initial) subevent of the predicate, as is the case for external arguments in general (Harley 1995). This explains why the unintentional causer construction cannot be found with a subclass of change of state verbs, namely those expressing internally caused eventualities, which lack a causative predicate, a fact that has either gone unnoticed or remained unexplained in other analyses of the construction.


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