'How do you miss your external argument?' Non-active voice alternations in Italian

Chiara Frigeni


Impersonal-passive SI constructions of the type In Italia si leggono pochi giornali (In Italy SI read.3pl few newspapers) are traditionally likened, if not even reduced, to canonical (participial) passives (for instance, Belletti 1982) or to middles (Manzini 1986). This work shows the syntactic differences among those constructions through an articulated set of diagnostics. Such a systematic comparison also indicates that impersonal-passive SI constructions, canonical passives and middles share two features: they lack the external argument (in different ways) and they contain a result state phrase. The paper is mainly concerned with the first characteristic and parametrizes Embick's (1997, 1998) system of non-active voice/unaccusative syntax by arguing that there are different ways in which a predicate can lack an external argument.


Italian; Non-active Voice; Impersonal-Passive; External Argument

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