Voice and the interfaces of syntax

David Embick, University of Pennsylvania


This thesis is a study of grammatical voice. Specifically, I focus on how the syntax of voice alternations relates to the morphological and (and to some extent the interpretive) components of the grammar. Based on an analysis of voice syncretisms, cases in which the verb appearing in distinct syntactic alternations is realized with the same morphology, I argue that voice morphology does not bring about syntactic changes, but instead reflects syntactic configurations. Voice morphology is dissociated. I also address the syntax of participles and the English passive. I show that the key to understanding the syntax of the English passive lies in understanding the constituent parts of which it is composed, namely be and participial phrase. All passives are treated as predicative structures like those found with be elsewhere, with the participial phrase being a sort of adjective with possible eventive and agentive semantics. I discuss further implications of this approach for voice morphology in languages with synthetic passives. The third chapter investigates deponent verbs, verbs which only appear with 'passive' morphology. I show verbal classes of this type provide important evidence for a theory in which morphology interprets the output of syntax. I analyze these verbs as possessing a morphological feature inherently; verbs in syntactic alternations also appear with the identical feature, leading to an abstract morphological identity. In addition, I present an analysis which characterizes the possible types of deponent verbal classes, and which shows that the interactions of morphological voice features are tightly constrained. In addition, I that understanding the properties of deponent verbs leads to important results in analyzing the various kinds of features involved in the grammar.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Embick, David, "Voice and the interfaces of syntax" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9814839.