The meaning of antipassive: Evidence from Australian languages

Jessica Denniss


Existing semantic analyses of the antipassive morpheme capture scope facts but are unable to handle the non-culminating event reading which is found in Australian languages (among others). I develop a meaning for the antipassive that is able to capture this reading, and also account for the unexpected high-volitionality reading also found in some Australian languages. Finally, I turn to a typologically rare situation in two languages in which the antipassive construction is interpreted as denoting a culminated event with a fully affected object. I provide an account for this and show that there are formal similarities between the two kinds of antipassive, which may explain why the antipassive operator is used in the latter case even though it produces an interpretation of events which is apparently opposite to the more common non-culminating reading.


antipassives, transitivity, modality, Australian languages

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Copyright (c) 2017 Jessica Denniss