Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

A Study of Pronominal Verbs in Romance: Evidence of the Antipassive in French and Italian

with Karina High, Graduate Student, UT Austin

Tue, November 12, 2019 | RLP 4.716

3:00 PM

A Study of Pronominal Verbs in Romance: Evidence of the Antipassive in French and Italian

This study examines diachronic and synchronic evidence for the antipassive construction in French and Italian, focusing on the distribution of a particular class of pronominal verbs and their transitive counterparts in data from the 12th to 21st centuries. The verbs selected for this study are Fr. (s’)apercevoir ‘see (briefly); realize’It. ricordar(si) ‘remind; remember’, Fr. (se) plaindre/It. lamentar(si) ‘pity; complain’and Fr. (se) vanter/It. vantar(si) ‘praise; boast’. The pronominal verbs of these pairs are characterized by the realization of the logical object as an oblique complement, while their transitive forms select a direct object. The process involved in the pronominal construction can be described as the demotion of the logical object to a non-core argument, which is a defining property of the antipassive construction. In the environment of a logical object, the transitive verbs have started to dominate in the past three to five centuries, with the exception of the pronominal forms Fr. se plaindre and It. lamentarsi, which are more frequent since at least the 16th century. This study contributes to the discussion of the Romance reflexive se, as well as to the work on AP constructions in accusative languages.

Sponsored by: the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of Linguistics

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