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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 1998, Vol. 29, No. 3, Pages 399-437
(doi: 10.1162/002438998553806)
© 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Impersonal se Constructions in Romance and the Passivization of Unergatives
Article PDF (242.71 KB)

Romance constructions of the type SE Vunerg (e.g., si dorme) are shown to rely not only on nominative SE, as in Italian finite clauses, but also on accusative middle-passive SE. The latter analysis is needed for Romanian, because this language does not have nominative SE, as well as for Italian nonfinite clauses, in which nominative SE is illegitimate. According to my restatement of Cinque's (1988) generalizations, [+/−1arg] features are not needed. I assume a constrained theory of passivization, according to which the suspended Agent role cannot surface in the syntax as either -en or SE. The passivization of unergatives depends on analyzing unergatives as transitives with null cognate objects.