Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, 27:675

Existential sentences in Tagalog


    • Department of Linguistics & TESOLThe University of Texas at Arlington
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11049-009-9083-3

Cite this article as:
Sabbagh, J. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2009) 27: 675. doi:10.1007/s11049-009-9083-3


This paper investigates the syntax of existential sentences in Tagalog. It argues that existential sentences in Tagalog are formed on the basis of an unaccusative predicate that selects a noun phrase as its sole internal argument. The positive arguments for this analysis also argue against a small clause analysis of existential sentences in Tagalog (as proposed, for other languages, in work by Stowell 1978, 1981; Chomsky 1981, 1986; Safir 1985; Hoekstra and Mulder 1990; Lasnik 1992; Moro 1997; among others). Additionally, this paper argues for an analysis of the definiteness effect in which the restriction follows from the requirement that the noun phrase that occurs in existential sentences (i.e., the “pivot”) be a property denoting object. This proposal not only accounts for the class of noun phrases that are acceptable in Tagalog existential sentences, but also helps to shed light on various morphosyntactic aspects of existential sentences in the language, relating—in particular—to their impersonal clause structure, morphological case, as well as other properties.

TagalogExistential constructionsDefiniteness effectImpersonal constructionsRestrict
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009