Reflexive Datives and Argument Structure
Jim Wood
November 2022

Many languages have constructions where applied datives must be reflexive. This creates a puzzle. When arguments are forced to be reflexive, we tend to call them inherent reflexives and assume that they are essentially listed in the lexicon and connected in some way with the meaning of the verb. But applied datives are frequently optional, non-selected arguments, so listing them as inherent reflexives does not seem to be a likely solution. Some previous proposals have tried to derived the properties of reflexive datives, in some sense, from the semantic effects that they induce. But I argue that the range of semantic effects cross-linguistically is too diverse for that to be a general solution. In this paper, I focus on reflexive datives in Icelandic, and show that they contribute truth-conditional meaning, and can both be freely added as non-selected arguments and be selected for by particular verbs. I propose that the general picture forces a principled expansion of the range of selectional features that argument-introducing heads can possess: they can select for a DP specifier, a ϕP specifier, or no specifier; essentially, they can select for a DP or any subset of a DP. The structure that generates reflexive datives is based on general primitives, and is therefore widely available for languages to use, but the features involved do not predetermine the semantic interpretation, so languages can make use of the structure distinct but related ways.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006920
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To be submitted to Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax
keywords: reflexives, datives, personal datives, icelandic, allosemy, applicatives, argument structure, syntax
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