Deconstructing SE constructions: number agreement and post-syntactic variation
Javier Ormazabal, Juan Romero
June 2022

Most analyses of non-paradigmatic SE in Romance are constructed to derive the distribution of their agreement pattern, which forces them to distinguish passive and impersonal SE-constructions structurally, against all evidence. Instead, we uniformly analyze them as regular active sentences where the subject agreeing with T is SE itself, an argumental clitic pronoun, always human and lexically specified as [person], and lacking number φ features altogether. We show that number agreement in SE-constructions does not behave as a genuine syntactic agreement relation and cannot be used as reliable evidence to determine the subjecthood of the overt argument, which uniformly shows syntactic properties of direct objects. A new agreement asymmetry is revealed between postverbal and preverbal/null arguments which conceals two different postsyntactic processes with very distinctive properties: morphological Mutation of an object clitic into number agreement in a CLLD-like configuration, similar to other crosslinguistically attested agreement displacement processes; and Number Harmony of T with a close DP, a phenomenon not ruled by systematic syntactic or morphological conditions that we link to similar agreement patterns in other contexts. Strong evidence for Clitic Mutation comes from Clitic Climbing contexts and from idiomatic expressions containing clitics.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005144
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Prepublication version. Published in Linguistic Inquiry. doi:
keywords: non-paradigmatic se-constructions, clitic mutation, number harmony, person/number agreement, quirky subjects, feature geometry, agree, match
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