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On the New Passive

Publiceringsår: 2011
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 148-178
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Syntax
Volym: 14
Nummer: 2
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Wiley-Blackwell


The so-called New Passive in Icelandic takes the form 'it was elected us' (or, e.g., 'then was elected us', without an expletive), instead of the standard passive form 'we were elected'. It has neither A-movement to subject nor acc-to-nom conversion, which are otherwise diagnostic of the canonical passive in Icelandic and related languages. Some researchers have argued that "passive" is in fact a misnomer and that the construction should instead be analyzed as an active one, with a nominative pro. This paper argues instead in favor of a minimalist analysis, where the New Passive is closely related to the impersonal P passive (with a PP, type 'then was shouted at us'), which is highly common and productive in Icelandic. On the approach pursued, acc-to-nom conversion involves case-star deletion, absent from the New Passive (much as from so-called psych and fate (un)accusatives in standard Icelandic). Additionally, the New Passive has a strong vP phase edge, blocking A-movement, in contrast to the defective vP edge in the canonical passive. The paper argues that A-grounding or "freezing" is brought about by phi-minimality, A-islands thus arising in a parallel fashion with A'-islands.


  • Languages and Literature


  • ISSN: 1368-0005

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