Causatives in Hebrew Object-Experiencer Nominalizations

Ivy Sichel (University of California Santa Cruz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Odelia Ahdout (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

This paper examines the syntax of Cause arguments by comparing the realization of psych-predicates in verbal and nominal domains. We look at nominals, which are known to be deficient in the realization of the Cause argument. In English, for example, the verbal version of an Object-Experiencer (OE) predicate can include a Cause external argument, but the nominal realization cannot (see Lakoff 1970; Grimshaw 1990; Iwata 1995; Pesetsky 1995; Marantz 1997; Harley and Noyer 2000; Sichel 2010 for the claim that transitive nominals are always agentive).

(1) a. The insult/my enemy humiliated me.
b. *The insult’s/my enemy’s humiliation of me.
c. My humiliation (*by the insult/by my enemy).

It is not the case however, that Cause arguments are never allowed in nominalizations (Alexiadou and Iordăchioaia (2014) for Greek and Romanian), and our goal is to describe the conditions under which Cause realization is possible in nominalizations. This will allow us to isolate the syntactic realization of Cause as internal argument, which in the verbal domain remains obscure, due to the availability of richer resources for Cause realization. First, we provide new evidence for the claim in Alexiadou and Iordăchioaia (2014), that causative participants are available only for eventive OE verbs which have an eventive Subject Experiencer (SE) alternate. This is evident in Hebrew OE nominalizations, when we compare Cause-realization across templates. OE nominalizations based on transitive verbs in Piel have Cause arguments, but OE nominalizations based on transitive verbs in Hif’il are strictly agentive, as in English; a PP Cause is impossible. The Cause realization corresponds to a transitive verb which has an intransitive Middle SE alternate, in (3), which similarly introduces Cause via an internal PP. The transitive verb in (2b), however, has no corresponding Middle. If internal Cause realization depends on the availability of a Middle form, the absence of Causative meaning in (2b) is expected. To the extent that the verbal version of (2b) may have a Cause subject, in (4b), this can only mean that verbs have other means for introducing external Cause arguments.

(2)          a.  ha-šilhuv                         šel ha-kahal                me-ha-ne’um

                   the-enrapturing.ACT         of the-audience           from-the-speech

                   ‘The enrapturing of the crowd by the speech’.

              b.   hat’ayat        ha-xayalim   *me-ha-pkud

the-misleading.ACT (of)  the-soldiers   from-the-commands

                  ‘The misleading of the soldiers (*by the commands)’.

(3)          ha-kahal         hištalhev                              me-ha-neum               

              the-audience   became.enraptured.MID         from-the-speech

(4)          a. ha-neum       šilhev                            et      ha-kahal 

                  the-speech   enraptured.ACT              ACC    the-audience

              b. ha-pkudot        hit’u             et       ha-xayalim

                  the-commands misled.ACT   ACC     the-soldiers

The morphological richness of Hebrew templatic morphology allows us to step beyond the observation that OE Cause depends on SE Cause, and to further clarify the structural constraints on the realization of Cause arguments, and the derivational relationship underlying such verb-nominal pairs. First, since Hebrew distinguishes morphologically between the two transitive OE patterns (Piel and Hifil), and second, because these morphological distinctions are carried into the nominal domain, we can see that the possibility for a Cause interpretation ((2a) vs. (2b)) depends on template, and not on the lexical semantics of the root. Assuming that templatic morphology reflects syntax, it follows that the possibility for a Cause is syntactic. Another conclusion that can be drawn, based on the templatic transparency of verb-nominal derivation, involves the kind of Cause observed in nominalization: it is necessarily an internal Cause, which has its source in the Middle verbal (3a). This implies that the external Cause associated with Hifil verbs has a distinct source, associated exclusively with verbs. In the talk we address another dimension of templatic transparency observed in Hebrew nominalizations, the availability of nominalizations of Middle forms, such as nominal Middle Hitpael in (5), corresponding to verbal Middle Hitpael (3). As seen in (5), argument realization in Middle nominals can be identical to argument realization in Active nominals (2a). We discuss the derivational relationship between these forms and their verbal counterparts, and suggest that nominal OE forms can only be derived from their verbal OE counterparts and not from the corresponding nominal SE forms.

(5)          ha-hištalhevut                                            šel ha-kahal                 me-ha-ne’um 

              the-becoming.enraptured.MID                      of the-audience           from-the-speech

              ‘The enrapturing of the crowd by the speech’.


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