, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 721-735

Existential sentences in Tagalog: commentary on the paper by Joseph Sabbagh

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In his article in this volume, Joseph Sabbagh treats existential there sentences (henceforth, ET sentences) as a type of structure whose expression in different languages may vary. Taking the first step in constructing a typology of ET sentences, he claims that ET sentences in the Western Austronesian language Tagalog are built from an unaccusative predicate, whereas ET sentences in English, according to the proposals he cites, are constructed from small clauses. Both analyses have also been proposed for ET sentences in other Western Austronesian languages. For instance, in Malagasy, a Western Austronesian language spoken in Madagascar, Pearson (1996) and Paul (2000) defend a small clause analysis of ET sentences, whereas Polinsky (2008) argues persuasively for an analysis involving an unaccusative predicate. At various points in this commentary, I try to push the typology of ET further by suggesting possible typological correlates of their form.

Many thanks to Nenita Domingo for judgments and sophisticated discussion.