Volume 35, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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This paper investigates the morphosyntactic encoding of involuntary agent constructions (IACs), where a patient is affected by an involuntarily acting agent, using a sample of 150 languages. In contrast to what has been argued in earlier work, I show that the difference between IACs and their volitional, transitive counterparts is rarely situated on the level of agent case marking only. Instead, a much more common strategy for the marking of IACs involves the verb: IACs often have an anticausative instead of a regular transitive verb. I argue that anticausative verbs are used in IACs in order to represent the event as an uncontrolled event for which the involuntary agent is not responsible. Because these anticausative verbs happen to be intransitive, IACs can end up being intransitive as well. I argue, however, that this is not the result of a direct link between involuntary agents and reduced transitivity.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Agency; Transitivity; Typology; Volitionality
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