A transitive root is generally assumed to merge with a light verb that makes available to the root: (i) external argument and (ii) structural Case. Following Jaeggli (1986) and Baker, Johnson, and Roberts (1989), this paper argues that passives involve exactly the same light verb and that properties (i) and (ii) can be cancelled by a designated nominal, which is the past participle ending in Germanic and Romance languages, and pro in Japanese. Unlike Germanic and Romance past participles, the Japanese passive morpheme rare need not merge with pro; hence, indirect passives with accusative DPs are available. In this theory, possessor passives are analyzed on a par with direct rather than indirect passives; thus, they are correctly predicted to be attested in both types of languages. The claim is also supported by the existence of certain transitive constructions in Japanese, which have a non-thematic subject just like direct passives.
Proceedings of the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Robert E. Santana-LaBarge
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