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Syntax Interface Lectures Utrecht


22 May 2018
16:00 - 17:00
Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, room 1.06 (Ravensteynzaal)

Marika Lekakou (University of Ioannina)

Unifying personal and impersonal middles


Marika Lekakou (University of Ioannina)

joint work with Marcel Pitteroff (University of Stuttgart)


In a cross-linguistic study of the semantics and morphosyntax of personal middles, as in (1), Lekakou (2004, 2005, 2008) has argued that personal middles are dispositional statements targeting the Patient/Theme of the verb. In a subset of languages that have personal middles an impersonal variant exists, aka the impersonal middle, as in (2). Impersonal middles have been shown to pattern with personal middles in terms of morphology, syntax and semantics (Ackema & Schoorlemmer 2005, Broekhuis & Corver 2015), suggesting that a unified treatment is to be desired. We provide such a treatment, the basic tenet of which is that impersonal middles involve a disposition ascription too, albeit not to an event participant, but to the eventuality itself. We show that this approach fares better than existing alternatives in capturing the properties of impersonal middles. A consequence of our approach is that, in fact, no truly impersonal middle can ever be.


(1) Dit boek leest makkelijk.

this book reads easily

‘This book reads easily.’


(2)   Het danst    hier goed.

it    dances  here good

‘One dances here well.’