Intransitive causatives in English: Productivity regularities and asymmetries

  • Eugenia Mangialavori Rasia
  • Josep Ausensi


We analyze a construction generally overlooked in the literature, with key implica- tions for of argument structure alternations and VP-internal configuration. This construction involves an object-less causative variant of change-of-state verbs (viz. Intransitive Causative). Unlike better-known monadic (inchoative/unaccusative) alternates, this construction selects for an external argument, an inanimate entity, interpreted by default as probable cause of a change of state. Here, intransitivity correlates with noneventivity. Data suggest that this construction renders an Individual-Level Predication—basically, a subject bearing the potential to eventually trigger an associated change of state as defining property. Based on the pure stative behavior of such a construction (clearly seen in Romance and Greek, cf. Mangialavori Rasia, to appear), we show that eventivity is structurally achieved, and that stative instances of these verbs are possible in various languages (Alexiadou and Iorda ̆chioaia, 2014; Mangialavori Rasia, 2018). Such data argue against the prevalent view that verbs undergoing causative alternation involve change of state or eventive denotation as core part of their lexical meaning and that causative interpretation is a byproduct of transitivity (Hale and Keyser, 2002). In the present paper, we shift the empirical focus to English and note that English shows a productive regularity that deserves to be explored. Visible contrasts with null object constructions and related argument structure alternations (Null/Unspecified Object Alternations, Levin, 1993 i.a.) allowed by these verbs are also revealed.
How to Cite
Mangialavori Rasia, E., & Ausensi, J. (2020). Intransitive causatives in English: Productivity regularities and asymmetries. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 24(2), 38-55.