et les adjectifs comme ça
The syntax of psychological verbs like amuse has interested linguists for a number of years. Certain phenomena may be explained in a framework in which the syntax of these verbs involves a primitive causative predicate and a derived subject (originating from an object position). In other words, psych verbs like amuse are causative unaccusative (have a derived subject) transitive (have a direct object) verbs. I argue in the first part of the article that Romance object pro, the null object found in simple sentences like le chômage, ça n’amuse pas (“unemployment, that does not amuse (people)”) or a complexe sentence like ça ne fait pas rire (“that does not make (one) laugh”), is a property of Romance causative constructions, combined with the requirement that semantic computation be compositional. The latter requirement accounts for the very specific distribution of pro, basically only found with psych verbs. The former property explains why object pro is found in Romance languages and not in English. Still probing in the properties of French psych constructions, the second part of the article examines an exceptional class of slang psychological adjectives like marrant “funny”, which do not conform to the general syntax of V-ant adjectives. They have specific properties, explained within the framework developed in the first part of the article.
Published online: 28 March 2006