piñón: modelling the causative-inchoative alternation


The causative-inchoative alternation has traditionally been modelled in terms of the causativization of inchoative verbs. I argue that this analysis conflicts with the way the causative-inchoative alternation is predominantly expressed crosslinguistically, which would sooner suggest that the causative-inchoative alternation involves the decausativization of causative-inchoative verbs. After considering two further models for the causative-inchoative alternation (that of Parsons (1990) and Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995)) and finding them wanting as well, I propose a new model (the Y-model) that derives the meaning of a causative-inchoative verb and its inchoative counterpart from the meaning of their shared verb stem. The Y-model does justice both to the morphological facts of the causative-inchoative alternation and to the idea that an inchoative verb is a decausative (or more precisely: a deagentive) version of its causative-inchoative counterpart.


This paper is an antecedent to "A finer look at the causative-inchoative alternation".


In Linguistische Arbeitsberichte 76, pp. 273–293. Universität Leipzig, 2001.


Paper, camera-ready version

piñón: modelling the causative-inchoative alternation
last updated on 20 may 2013
christopher piñón