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The Danish reportive passive as a non-canonical passive

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Abstract

Danish passive utterance and cognitive verbs allow a construction where the subject of an infinitival complement is raised: Peter siges at være bortrejst (‘Peter is said to be out of town’). Contrary to English, these verbs are not ECM-verbs or subject-to-object raising verbs in the active. The subject of the passive can never be construed as an object. These raising passives are termed Reportive Passives since they attribute a proposition to an (unknown) information source. Some analyses treat these passives as special constructions with an idiosyncratic semantics or even as grammaticalized evidentiality markers. I argue that they are fully compositional passives in Danish, but that they are non-canonical inasmuch as they raise an argument of an embedded predicate. I provide an account within the framework of Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar and I suggest that such passives are motivated in (Germanic) SVO-languages by a strong subject condition.

References

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