Against the Unaccusative Analysis of Reflexives
This chapter contends that the arguments that led linguists to the unaccusative approach can all be handled by a version of the more traditional view that takes reflexive verbs to be unergative predicates. Moreover, it shows that when reflexives are submitted to syntactic tests of unaccusativity, they systematically fail the tests in a variety of languages. More specifically, their subject does not pattern with internal arguments. The morphological similarity often attested between reflexives and unaccusatives is not due to a common argument structure, but to the basic operation at the heart of their derivation. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 6.2 rejects the possibility that reflexive clitics are object clitics. Section 6.3 discusses the operation of reduction, which is the operation that derives reflexive verbs. Section 6.4 examines and discards the arguments advanced by proponents of the unaccusative analysis in favour of their approach. Section 6.5, in turn, provides cross-linguistic evidence that the subject of reflexive verbs is not an internal argument. The last section shows how the distinctions between reflexive verbs in Hebrew, Dutch, and English vs. Romance can be straightforwardly accounted for if reflexives can be derived either in the lexicon or in syntax.
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