Impersonals, Passives and Impersonal Pronouns: Lessons from Lithuanian
Milena Šereikaitė
May 2021

This study examines the properties of VoiceP and impersonal pronouns by contrasting two constructions in Lithuanian: the -ma/-ta impersonal and the canonical passive. I argue that while both constructions overlap morphologically, they are syntactically distinct. The -ma/-ta impersonal is related to the Polish and Ukrainian -no/-to construction (e.g., Lavine 2005, 2013). Although the Lithuanian impersonal patterns with the Ukrainian -no/-to passive in allowing an auxiliary, it behaves like an active Voice with a null projected initiator in a thematic subject position - a pattern found in the Polish -no/-to impersonal and other impersonals crosslinguistically (Maling & Sigurjónsdóttir 2002; Blevins 2003; Lavine 2005, 2013; McCloskey 2007; Legate 2014). I show that the Lithuanian passive lacks a syntactically realized initiator and selects for a type of Voice without a specifier (in line with e.g., Bruening 2013, Legate 2014, Alexiadou et al. 2015, contra Collins 2005). The properties of the impersonal pronoun of the -ma/-ta impersonal are also analyzed demonstrating that it is a bare N that lacks inherently specified phi-features (number, gender, and person) and has no case. This finding supports the existing proposals of impersonal pronouns across languages that treat them as defective (e.g., Egerland 2003, Hoekstra 2010, Ackema & Neeleman 2018, Fenger 2018, Hall 2020, Legate et al. 2020).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005985
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Syntax
keywords: passive, impersonal, implicit arguments, case, lithuanian, impersonal pronouns, syntax
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