Edited by Andrej L. Malchukov and Anna Siewierska
[Studies in Language Companion Series 124] 2011
► pp. 189–228
From passive to impersonal
A case study from Italian and its implications
In contemporary Italian, there is a passive si-construction in which the patient governs agreement on the verb and an impersonal si-construction in which either the verb is intransitive or the patient is not promoted to subject. The coexistence of the two constructions is the result of a long-lasting process by which an impersonal has developed out of (and has progressively differentiated itself from) an original passive. In this paper we focus on the initial stage of this process, namely the extension of the si-construction to intransitive verbs, and the emergence of the non-agreeing pattern with transitive verbs. Based on a large corpus of literary and non-literary documents, we argue that both these phenomena require a reanalysis of si as a marker of generic human agency as a necessary precondition, and that such a reanalysis starts with patients that are unlikely candidates for subjecthood. Keywords: reanalysis; impersonal passive; non-promotional passive; impersonalization of passive constructions
Cited by 9 other publications
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