Deconstructing Voice. The syntax and semantics of u-syncretism in Spanish
Andrés Saab
December 2020

This paper focuses on a well-known pattern of systematic syncretism in Spanish SE constructions. Detailed syntactic and semantic analyses are provided with the aim of sustaining two main theses. First, I conceive of SE (and its agreeing variants), as a probe for A-movement. This probe is merged with Voice in order to satisfy a subcategorization restriction. Yet, being defective, it cannot receive a theta-role from Voice. As a probe it looks for a goal in its complement domain. If there is such a goal, then it A-moves to Spec,Voice, position in which it agrees with SE and receives an additional agent theta-role from Voice, if there is one. This results in most, if not all, instances of the so-called "paradigmatic" SE (SE reflexives, inherent SE, benefactive SE and so on). There are cases in which there is no such a goal for SE. In those scenarios, Agree fails and the clitic receives third person singular by default. This results in the so-called "non-paradigmatic" se (essentially, passive/impersonal SE). Second, at LF, these two syntactic scenarios feed two different LF realizations. Whenever SE has a goal with which it agrees, SE itself is realized as a lambda-abstractor, but as an indefinite variable whenever Agree fails, as in the case of passive/impersonal SE. This theory dispenses, then, with particular Voice features (e.g., Active vs. Non-active) and with different types of SE (paradigmatic vs. non-paradigmatic) but, more importantly, it does so by appealing to well-motivated restrictions on A-dependencies, namely, Activity and Miminality. [NB: This paper is in an important sense a response to my own view on this, published in several previous works but more recently in another Lingbuzz paper called "On SE-syncretism in Spanish". I leave the two versions in Lingbuzz, but since I gave up with my previous views on SE I will decline to publish that material in other places.] LAST VERSION: Many tipos corrected. I have also eliminated some previous sections that do not alter the main content.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005301
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Glossa 5(1): 127
keywords: case, theta-roles, se-constructions, spanish, syncretism, semantics, syntax
previous versions: v3 [October 2020]
v2 [October 2020]
v1 [July 2020]
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