An ergative analysis of French valency alternations
The French anticausative is attested in two separate constructions: one focuses on the result (Res-AC), e.g. <i>Le rameau s’est flétri</i>; the second focuses on the process (Proc-AC) – <i>Le rameau a flétri</i>, both translated to English as ‘The branch withered’. The paper proposes to explain the differences between the two constructions as follows. Res-AC results from the merge of <i>se</i> under non-active Voice, coupled with the absence of a vP projection, whereas Proc-AC results from the use of active Voice with a v projection lacking a specifier. Anticausative derivations from typologically distinct languages, Hebrew and Neo-Aramaic (an ergative language) provide support for the analysis. In these languages, the merge of v is overtly detectable, whether or not v has a specifier. In Hebrew this is indicated by a dative reflexive clitic, and in Neo-Aramaic, by ergative agreement. The analysis proposed for French extends naturally to these languages, providing support for it.