Implicit control cross-linguistically
Marcel Pitteroff, Florian Schäfer
May 2018

In Landau (2015), it is proposed that the acceptability of control by the implicit external argument of a passivized verb into complement clauses (implicit control) is not only restricted by the Revised Visser’s Generalization (van Urk 2013), but also depends on the type of matrix predicate involved. While attitude matrix predicates allow implicit control (implicit logophoric control), non-attitude matrix predicates do not. Landau takes this bifurcation to support his Two-Tiered Theory of Control, by assuming that in the case of non-attitude matrix predicates, the control relation is essentially a predication relation, from which implicit arguments are independently excluded. In this paper, we subject these claims to empirical scrutiny, showing that Landau’s generalization on implicit control holds only in a subset of languages, while other languages license implicit control with both types of matrix predicates. We investigate and reject the hypothesis that this cross-linguistic split is the consequence of different types of implicit arguments, only some of them being syntactically represented in a way that they can enter a predication relation. Based on an investigation of the acceptability of agent-modifying depictives in passives, we conclude that, in principle, implicit external arguments of passives in all languages under consideration can enter predication. We show, however, that there is a different correlation: languages which allow implicit control with non-attitude verbs (implicit predicative control) are exactly those languages that allow impersonal passives of unergative predicates. We account for this correlation by showing that implicit logophoric control, but not implicit predicative control can be construed as a personal passive. Our analysis appears to be at odds with the Revised Visser’s Generalization, which holds that personal passives block implicit control. Yet, we provide independent evidence that this generalization needs to be adjusted and this adjustment renders our analysis fully compatible with the Revised Visser’s Generalization.
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Reference: lingbuzz/003828
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keywords: (obligatory) control, (impersonal) passive, implicit argument, (non-)attitude, semantics, syntax
previous versions: v1 [January 2018]
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