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Overlap and complementarity in reference impersonals

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Abstract

This paper is concerned with two kinds of so-called R-impersonals, i.e. impersonals triggered by a reduction in referentiality, namely third-person plural impersonals (3<sc>pl-imps</sc>) and man-constructions (<sc>man-imps</sc>). In the languages of Europe, both of these impersonal constructions display a wide range of uses including referential uses and therefore enter into competition with topicality and definiteness based-impersonals. Building on the work of Giacalone Ramat &#38; Sans&#242; (2008), the current paper maps out the distribution of 3<sc>pl-imps</sc> relative to <sc>man-imps</sc> and relates these patterns to an important typological factor in the European context, namely the formal realization of pronominal subjects (see e.g. Holmberg 2005; Cabredo Hofherr 2006; Siewierska 2007). This relationship will, however, be argued to be somewhat more nuanced that has been previously assumed. Keywords: generic; episodic; existential; passive; agentivity; pro-drop; voice

References

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