, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 467-497
Date: 29 Oct 2008

Voice and relativization without movement in Malagasy

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Major syntactic processes in Malagasy (Madagascar) are conditioned by its rich, typically W. Austronesian, voice system. This is true of the formation and interpretation of relative clauses, focus constructions, nominalizations, control structures, imperatives, the distribution of reflexives, and more. Similar claims hold to varying extents in related languages. Limiting ourselves to Malagasy, we derive, and compositionally interpret, nuclear Ss headed by verbs in different voices. Such Ss are directly projected from verbal affixes, not derived by A or A′ movement, contra other approaches. We derive relative clauses (RCs) directly from predicates in different voices. No operator movement is needed or used. We compositionally interpret RCs, which only requires interpreting predicates in different voices but not variable binding operators or bound variables. This yields a new analysis of the “Subjects Only” constraint in Malagasy. Further, Malagasy’s rich voice system suggests a cognitive trigger for the use of variable binding operators in RCs in voice-poor languages such as English.

Heartfelt thanks to Marcel den Dikken and three anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive queries and suggestions.