vendredi 25 février 2011

Séance du mercredi 16 mars 2011

Date et heure: mercredi 16 mars 2011 à 19h
Lieu: Département Afrique de l'Inalco RDC - 10 rue Riquet 75019 Paris, Métro Riquet

Titre: Nominalizations as sources of impersonal and passive constructions
An under-explored diachronic path
Auteur: Andrea Sansò, Università dell’Insubria – Como

The aim of this paper is to trace the development of impersonal (and passive) constructions out of a source construction that has been only marginally discussed in the literature on the sources of passive and impersonal constructions so far. Such a source construction consists in an event-central clause with an existential/presentational function of the form “there is X” (X = action noun). The pathway from action nouns to passive and impersonal is quite widespread across different language families in the Americas, and is also attested in some South-East Asian languages.
There appear to be well-defined scenarios for the evolution of passive and impersonal constructions out of their sources and/or out of other impersonal and passive constructions (Siewierska 2010). All these scenarios revolve around changes in the coding properties of agents and patients. A number of generalizations (such as, e.g., the behaviour-before-coding principle) can be made concerning such scenarios, although it is always possible to single out some idiosyncratic developments depending on different (language-specific) factors.
Based on the available diachronic data, and on internal reconstruction whenever possible (Givón 1999; Ringe 2003), the stages of this path will be reconstructed on the basis of the different coding properties of patients and agents in the constructions derived from such a source.


Givón, T. 1999. Internal reconstruction: As method, as theory. In: S. Gildea (ed.), Reconstructing grammar. Comparative linguistics and grammaticalization, 107-159. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Ringe, D. 2003. Internal reconstruction. In: B. D. Joseph, and R. D. Janda (eds.), The handbook of historical linguistics, 244-261. Oxford: Blackwell.
Siewierska, A. 2010. From 3pl to passive: incipient, emergent and established passives. Diachronica 27 (3).

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