Dutch impersonal passives
Beyond volition and atelicity
Dutch impersonal passives are often considered to be only compatible with atelic volitional verbs, such as werken ‘work’, lachen ‘laugh’, and zwemmen ‘swim’. Two recent corpus studies, however, argue that a wider range of verbs is compatible with the construction, presenting examples of attested impersonal passives with telic and non-volitional verbs. This paper lends further support to this view, by providing an exploratory study of the frequencies of different intransitive verbs appearing in the construction, as well as a discussion of the telicity of attested impersonal passives with vallen ‘fall’ and sterven ‘die’. The paper concludes that also with these telic non-volitional verbs, the impersonal passive merely conveys the occurrence of the type of act described by the verb, without specifying whether this occurrence is constituted by a single or multiple events, or whether it involves one or more participants.
Keywords: impersonal passive, unaccusativity, Dutch, volitionality, telicity, attested examples
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