Greek and english passives, and the role of by-phrases

Nikos Angelopoulos, Chris Collins, Arhonto Terzi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper proposes an analysis in which passive by-phrases are merged as the arguments of the active with the corresponding theta roles (Hasegawa 1988; D'Hulst 1992; Mahajan 1994; Goodall 1997; 1999; Caha 2009; Collins 2018a; Roberts 2019; Karlík 2020 and Hallman 2020). The analysis finds support in new data from Greek and English showing that, just like the DP arguments of the active, by-phrases bear the same range of theta roles and can bind a non-logophoric reflexive. On the other hand, it is shown that PPs with non-argument theta-roles, that is, adjunct PPs, cannot. In light of these findings, the paper reaches a number of independent conclusions such as that VoiceP, the projection responsible for the distinct morphological realization of the different Voice phenomena, does not introduce the external argument (Collins 2005; Merchant 2013; Manzini et al. 2016; Ramchand 2017; Roberts 2019; Zyman & Kalivoda 2020; Newman 2020). Furthermore, in light of the new data presented here, the paper discusses reasons for which the following proposals cannot be maintained: that the Greek and English passive are formed in a different manner, or with different Voice heads (Alexiadou & Doron 2012 i.a.), that by-phrases are merged as adjuncts (Bruening 2013; Legate 2014; Alexiadou et al. 2015 i.a.) or that Greek by-phrases systematically exhibit distinct behavior from the corresponding DP arguments of the active (Alexiadou et al. 2015). Lastly, it is argued that the rules of semantic composition, if applied as in Heim & Kratzer (1998) and Bruening (2013), make available more ways in which arguments can be merged than those which are actually attested. The paper suggests that the rules in question must be constrained by independent principles, such as Chomsky's (1981, 1986) Theta Criterion.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number90
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2020


    • Adjuncts
    • Arguments
    • By-phrase
    • English
    • Greek
    • Reflexives
    • Theta-Criterion
    • Voice

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Linguistics and Language
    • Language and Linguistics


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