Against the Psych Causative Alternation in Polish

Bożena Rozwadowska,

Anna Bondaruk


The paper examines Object Experiencer (henceforth, OE)/Subject Experiencer (henceforth, SE) verb alternations in Polish in order to check whether Polish exhibits the causative/ anticausative alternation in the psych domain (psych causative alternation of Alexiadou and Iordăchioaia 2014, henceforth A&I 2014). The focus is on two types of SE reflexive alternants of OE verbs, i.e., (i) SE forms with an obligatory instrumental case-marked DP derived from stative OE roots, and (ii) SE forms with an optional instrumental DP derived from eventive OE roots. It is argued that in both cases the reflexive SE alternants of either stative or eventive OE verbs have an obligatory or optional instrumental DP which acts as a complement and represents a Target/Subject Matter (henceforth, T/SM, cf. Pesetsky 1995), not a Cause. Therefore, the reflexive OE/SE verb alternation cannot be of the causative/anticausative type. Monovalent reflexive SE verbs, lacking an instrumental DP altogether, are unergative (Reinhart 2001), not unaccusative (contra A&I 2014). The overall conclusion reached in the paper is that the psych causative alternation is absent in Polish.


This research was funded by grant 2014/15/B/HS2/00588 from National Science Centre, Poland. We are most grateful to two anonymous SPL reviewers, whose insightful comments significantly contributed to the final shape of the paper. All errors remain our responsibility
Słowa kluczowe: Subject Experiencer verbs, Object Experiencer verbs, psych causative alternation, unergative verbs, unaccusative verbs, the Polish language

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