Some Remarks on the Morphosemantics of Multiple Causative Sequences

Tyler Peterson
2006 Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society  
An investigation of these constructions tests a hypothesis which states that, in languages which utilize complex causative sequences, the causative morphemes are uniquely sensitive to the semantics of the stem they attach to along two parameters: (i) the eventuality of the stem, and (ii) the control and/or volitionality of the causee in cases of indirect causation. This generalization has its roots in Dixon (2000:62), who proposes a set of nine partially independent parameters governing
more » ... s governing causation cross-linguistically, two of which are relevant to this discussion: first, morphological causatives may distinguish between states and actions; second, they may encode degrees of control, volition and affectedness of the causee. There are two points of interest that come out of this study. This first is that morphology alone cannot be relied upon for the semantic interpretation of multiple-sequence causative structures. This is evident in Gitksan where there are potential mismatches between morphological structure and semantic interpretation when multiple causatives are involved. Secondly, other factors such as animacy and the valency of a predicate to which a causative morphemes attaches might be expected to play an important role in the formation of complex causatives constructions; however, neither appear to be a reliable indicator in predicting the distribution of stacked causatives in these two languages. Tarascan also presents its own challenge, where the causative morpheme -tara, shown in example (3), can only attach to a stem that has already undergone causativization. Ultimately, multiple-sequence causative constructions reflect the interaction of stative/eventive and volitional/non-volitional distinctions in the causative event they designate. These two notions converge on the subject, and it is shown that complex causative formation is sensitive to the type of subject projected by the verb stem: different causatives select for unaccusative states, which lack a subject; unergative events, in which the subject has the volitionality of an 'actor'; or transitive events, which have agent subjects (Perlmutter 1978; Burzio 1986).
doi:10.3765/bls.v32i1.3467 fatcat:gsp2ljx3kzdhjoxjdux7pqkmma