Samoan ergativity as double passivization
Hilda Koopman
October 2008

The derivation Samoan "absolutive" objects involves (low) passivization. If affected objects must map onto a region higher than the (lowest) position of the external argument, and Samoan predicates are too small to lift the object over the intervener, passivization is the only road to convergence. Passive voice attract a predicate-shell around the external vP shell ,“smuggling” the affected object around the intervener (Collins 2005). This understanding of the derivation of absolutive objects allows a uniform characterization of the contexts in which ergative case occurs. Ergative case only occurs in the presence of an absolutive object, i.e. when the complement is a passive voice complement with the external argument buried under the absolutive. The merger of a second passive voice is required to attract the external argument shell over the intervening absolutive, thereby smuggling the external argument around the intervening absolutive. Ergative case reflects the presence of this second passive voice, which makes ergative absolutive structures in effect double passive voice structures.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/000768
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Festschrift for G. Cinque (OUP)
keywords: ergative case, passive voice, transitivity, absolutive objects, nominative case, accusative case, natural force causatives, smuggling, minimality, syntax
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