Ways of impersonalizing: Pronominal vs verbal strategies

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The term impersonal is used in the literature to denote subjectless constructions, constructions featuring only a pleonastic subject, and constructions which lack a specified agent. This chapter focuses on the third of these types, which are often expressed in languages by the non-personal use of personal pronouns (pronominal impersonals) or by agentless passives, reflexive impersonals and participial impersonals (here designated by the cover term ‘verbal impersonals’). This chapter compares the use of pronominal impersonals, in particular that of the third person plural with verbal impersonals, with respect to their referential range. Adopting the principles of grammaticalization, I argue that third person plural constructions are more referentially restricted than their verbal counterparts.


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