Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Passive By-Phrases in Greek and English: Adjuncts or Arguments?

A heavily revised version of a paper on the Greek and English passive by Nikos Angelopoulos, Chris Collins and Arhonto Terzi. Lots of very interesting theoretical conclusions about by-phrases, VoiceP and the Theta-Criterion.


This paper proposes an analysis in which passive by-phrases are merged as arguments of the active with the corresponding theta roles (D' Hulst 1992, Goodall 1997, 1999, Hasegawa 1988 and Mahajan 1994 i.a.) and the underlying syntactic structure of the active and passive is identical (cf. Collins 2005). This analysis finds support in new data from Greek and English showing that just like DP arguments of the active, by-phrases bear the same range of theta roles and can bind a non-logophoric reflexive. On the other hand, it is shown that PPs with non-argument theta-roles, that is, adjunct PPs, cannot. In light of these findings, the paper reaches a number of independent conclusions such as that non-active morphology must be dissociated from the external argument position (cf. Collins 2005, Merchant 2013). Furthermore, the paper discusses reasons for which we do not side with the proposals that the Greek and English passive are formed in a different manner, or with different Voice heads (Alexiadou and Doron 2012 i.a.), that by-phrases are merged as adjuncts (Bruening 2013, Legate 2014) or that Greek by-phrases systematically exhibit distinct behavior from the corresponding DP arguments of the active (Alexiadou et al. 2015). Lastly, it is argued that the Theta Criterion (cf. Chomsky 1986) holds and constrains the way in which arguments are merged into the syntactic derivation. On the contrary, the rules of semantic composition alone cannot succeed in deriving the effects of the Theta Criterion (pace Heim and Kratzer 1998, Bruening 2013).

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