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Towards a typology of impersonal constructions

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Abstract

The present article proposes a semantic map for the domain of impersonal constructions. Following Keenan, we assume that different varieties of impersonal constructions register loss of the functional subject properties (such as definiteness, topicality and agentivity). It is argued that different functional varieties of impersonal constructions (where the subject lacks some of the functional properties of a prototypical subject) are coded by different types of impersonal constructions, although certain constructions have a broader range of applications. On the basis of this partial overlap between different coding strategies for different functional varieties of impersonal constructions, we construct a semantic map for the impersonal domain, which can be used to represent and constrain variation of coding of impersonal constructions across languages.

References

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