Home > Catalogue > Annali di Ca’ Foscari. Serie occidentale > 49 | 2015 > VoiceP Deactivation and Deponency in Latin
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VoiceP Deactivation and Deponency in Latin

Francesco Pinzin    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



What is a deponent verb? Why do we have verbs which have only a Non Active morphology and never an Active one? Is it possible to these verbs as a coherent category, with a common feature? Is this common feature a syntactic one, a semantic one or a morphological one? I’m trying to propose a (partial) answer to these questions. To do that, I have analysed the most salient and representative Latin deponent verbs in the Latin texts of the first century BCE. The proposed analysis is a syntactic-semantic one. The issue of deponent verbs is inextricably bound to the Latin passive morphology (-r). I claim that -r is a Voice° deactivator, like German sich in anticausatives and middles and Italian si. This analysis is sustained by its distribution and syntactic-semantic features. A deactivated Voice° can convey an anticausative interpretation, a middle-passive or a reflexive (through Argument Identification). The only productive class of deponents in Latin is the denominal one and there is an obvious relationship between Voice° deactivation and deponents. In the derivation(s) of denominal deponents a deactivated Voice° is needed. Without it the Int Arg, merged with the verbalized noun (nP), could not gain the Ext Arg (initiator) semantics. The bridge between these two positions is built by Argument Identification, a semantic mechanism that relies on the presence of the deactivated Voice° and, consequently, on the -r morphology.

Sept. 1, 2015

Keywords: LatinArgument StructureDeponentsSyntax

Copyright: © 2015 Francesco Pinzin. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.