Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Query Details

Query Subject:   Alternating Unaccusative Verbs and the Reflexive
Author:   Konrad Szczesniak
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Semantics

Query:   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
LL Issue: 16.1023
Date posted: 04-Apr-2005


Sums main page