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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2007, Vol. 38, No. 2, Pages 197-238.
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2007.38.2.197)
© 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Causation, Obligation, and Argument Structure: On the Nature of Little v
Article PDF (573.96 KB)

As shown by Kayne (1975), Romance causatives with faire fall into two classes, faire infinitif (FI) and faire par (FP). We argue from Italian data that the properties of the two classes depend on the nature of the complement of fare:FI embeds a vP, FP a nominalized VP. The syntactic and semantic characteristics of these complements account straightforwardly for well-known differences between FI and FP, including the previously untreated “obligation” requirement in FI, absent in FP. Our analysis also accounts for another subtle restriction on the formation of FP: the existence of an animacy requirement on the subject of fare, absent in FI. Finally, we argue that only FP can undergo passivization; this accounts for a previously unobserved asymmetry in passivizability of causatives of unergative and unaccusative intransitive verbs.