On the Interaction of Reflexives and Periphrastic Causatives in Icelandic
Cross-linguistically, reflexive verbs frequently show puzzling behavior when they are embedded under causatives. We focus on two ways that this pattern manifests itself in Icelandic Indirect Causatives, formed with the light verb láta ‘let/make/have’: (i) verbs that normally cannot be embedded are allowed with reflexives, and (ii) a pleonastic use of the causative verb becomes available in imperatives with oblique subjects. We propose that these facts follow from the syntax of long-distance reflexives (which involves a “point-of-view” operator OPPOV), and a Voice-stacking analysis of indirect causatives, where two Voice heads are added on top of a single vP. The claim is that there is a limited set of ways to interpret the Voice-stacking structure, and reflexives provide one particular way to do this that is not otherwise available. Assuming that either Voice head can introduce a thematic interpretation or be expletive, we propose that in principle, there are four ways to interpret the Voice-stacking structure. Our analysis supports the view that the syntax and semantics of causatives is derived from the interaction of more basic primitives and mechanisms, and is not encoded with a dedicated functional head in the grammar.