Thursday 1 October – Maria Kouneli

The new ComSyn season is starting! Due to the coronavirus situation, all talks this season will be held online via Skype. Please sign up for the mailing list / contact the ComSyn organizers for links to the talk (note that we will be using a different link from last semester!). The full programme can be found on the right-hand side bar; the first talk will be by Maria Kouneli:

Speaker: Maria Kouneli (Leipzig)
Title: The causative alternation in Kipsigis
Date: Thursday 1 October
Venue: Online (sign up for our mailing list or contact one of the organizers to get access to the talk)
Time: 15.15 – 16.30 hrs (CEST)


Recent syntactic approaches to the causative alternation (e.g. The cup broke vs. Sue broke the cup) treat it as a Voice alternation: the causative and anticausative variants have the same vP (event) layer, but differ in the presence vs. absence of an external argument-introducing Voice head (e.g. Marantz 2013, Alexiadou et al. 2015, Wood 2015, Kastner 2020). In this family of approaches, transitivity alternations cross-linguistically arise from different types of Voice heads (Alexiadou et al. 2015 a.o.). In this talk, I provide a description and analysis of the causative alternation in Kipsigis (Nilotic, Kenya), and I show that it is not a Voice alternation in the language: while it is the position of the external argument that regulates transitivity alternations in languages like English, it is the syntactic position of the internal argument instead that determines (in)transitivity in Kipsigis. Thus, not all transitivity alternations cross-linguistically can be explained by variation in Voice heads.

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