Causatives and High Applicatives: 2 Problems, 1.5 Solutions

Neil Myler

Boston University

Friday, March 3, 2023
Noon–1:30 p.m.

Lattimore 513

Interactions between causative and applicative morphemes have been a source of interest and despair for generative linguists since at least the days of Relational Grammar (see, for example, Kimenyi 1978:Section 7.3.2).  A strong prediction concerning such interactions emerges from the tradition associated with Pylkkänen (2002/2008) (See also McGinnis 2008:1239), as follows:

(1) Phase-selecting causatives should be able to embed High Applicatives, but verb-selecting causatives should be unable to.

In this talk, I will show that there are counter-examples to (1) in both directions: (i) isiXhosa is a language with a verb-selecting causative which can embed High Appl, and (ii) some Quechua varieties have a phase-selecting causative which cannot embed High Appl.  I will propose that a solution lies in the old idea that some instances of Appl are in fact tiny light verbs, whereas others are in fact tiny adpositions (see, for example, Legate 2001; Baker 1996:Section 9.3).  This leads straightforwardly to a solution for the isiXhosa problem, and perhaps gets us part-way to a solution for the Quechua cases.