LINGUIST List 16.1023

Mon Apr 04 2005

Qs: Governing Lang Change;Unaccusative and Reflexive

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        1.    Heather Schmidt, Institutions that Govern Language Change
        2.    Konrad Szczesniak, Alternating Unaccusative Verbs and the Reflexive

Message 1: Institutions that Govern Language Change

Date: 04-Apr-2005
From: Heather Schmidt <>
Subject: Institutions that Govern Language Change

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I was just wondering if anyone knew of any articles or sources about
official institutions that govern language change. I'm mainly looking for
information about the French Academy, but if there are other sources, those
are welcome too. I'm just wondering about the general effectiveness of
these institutions.

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Message 2: Alternating Unaccusative Verbs and the Reflexive

Date: 03-Apr-2005
From: Konrad Szczesniak <>
Subject: Alternating Unaccusative Verbs and the Reflexive

Dear Linguists,

I am working on the much-discussed causative analysis of unaccusative verbs
and I'm looking for examples of the following phenomenon in as many
languages as possible:

It is a widely recognized regularity that alternating unaccusative verbs in
some languages (especially Romance and Slavic languages) require a
reflexive clitic in the intransitive/inchoative pattern. For example, in
Polish one says

Dziecko zamroziło mleko (The child froze the milk)
Mleko zamroziło SIE (The milk froze REFLEXIVE-SIE)

This fact is addressed and explained very well by most current approaches
to unaccusativity and the causative alternation. But what these approaches
don't capture very well is that in Polish (and probably in many other
languages), a sizable portion of such unaccusative verbs has non-reflexive
inchoative equivalents:

Mleko zamroziło SIE / Mleko zamarzło
Milk froze REFLEXIVE-SIE / Milk froze (non-reflexive [NR])

Now, the non-reflexive version does not participate in the causative

*Dziecko zamarzło mleko (The child froze[NR] the milk)

Can you send me similar examples of non-reflexive non-alternating
unaccusative verbs in other languages - verbs which are only used in the
inchoative/intransitive structure? I would greatly appreciate examples both
from Slavic and Romance languages as well as ones from non-European
languages, which I will later post as a summary. Thank you.

Best regards,

Konrad Szczesniak
Institute of English
Silesian University

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

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