Jim Wood publishes paper in NLLT

November 22, 2014

Lecturer Jim Wood has published an article, titled Reflexive -st verbs in Icelandic”, in the November 2014 issue of Natural Language & Linguistic Theory. The abstract follows below:

The -st morpheme in Icelandic resembles Romance and Slavic reflexive clitics and some Germanic simplex reflexives in that it is associated with a number of different uses on various verbs; this includes, among other uses, a middle/anticausative, a reciprocal, and a reflexive use. The reflexive use of -st is, however, much more restricted than that of typical reflexive clitics. In this article, I discuss in detail one particular class of reflexive -st verb, which I will refer to as the ‘figure reflexive’. With figure reflexive constructions, the subject bears an external agentive Θ-role and is also understood as a ‘figure’ with respect to a spatial ‘ground’, in the sense of Talmy (1985). I discuss two questions that reflexive -st verbs raise for a syntactic view of argument structure: what is the relationship between anticausatives and reflexives, and where does lexical idiosyncrasy arise? For the first question, I propose to analyze -st as an argument expletive, which in figure reflexive constructions is merged in SpecpP (cf. Svenonius 2003, 2007), but in anticausatives is merged in SpecVoiceP. Only in the former case can the Θ-role survive in semantics, which is argued to derive from the fact that VoiceP dominates pP, and not the other way around. For the second question, I argue that there are two separate issues: the first is the syntactic distribution of -st (which limits the kinds of reflexive -st verbs that can exist) and the second is the integration of roots into abstract event structure. This analysis supports a model of grammar where the semantics interprets the syntax, but the syntax operates autonomously from semantics: interpretation is determined ‘late’, just like phonological forms are.


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