The Mediopassive: Latin to Romance

D. Gary Miller

in Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume II

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583430
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595288 | DOI:
The Mediopassive: Latin to Romance

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This chapter documents the changes from Latin to Romance in the coding of reflexive, anticausative, middle, and passive. The last three had the same morphological form in Early Latin, but until recently in Romance the first three have had the same syntactic expression. The Latin ‐r forms were triggered by altering the argument structure so that some argument could not be saturated in syntax. Reflexive forms replaced the ‐r forms in different structures at different times. The replacement began in the ergative verbs where ‘I sank myself’ had a bound anaphor in contrast to the lack of agentivity in the type ‘the ship sank itself’ , reanalyzed as an anticausative with reflexive merged in a projection for derived imperfectivity. Subsequently, the construction replaced the ‐r forms in certain other structures, and finally the middle and impersonal, but not the passive (within Latin, at least).

Keywords: reflexive; anticausative; passive; Early Latin; Romance

Chapter.  8538 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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