Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 781–849 | Cite as

Predicate raising and perception verb complements in Malagasy

  • Matt Pearson


Malagasy clauses have a bipartite structure, consisting of a predicate plus a topic-like constituent, the trigger, which specifies the argument of predication. Normally the predicate precedes the trigger. The question arises as to whether the trigger originates to the right of the predicate, or whether predicate-trigger order is derived through predicate fronting. I argue in favor of predicate fronting based on evidence from clausal complements in sentences denoting direct perception of an event. These complements closely resemble matrix clauses, but exhibit an order where the trigger precedes the predicate. I show that these complements are single constituents which pattern as tensed clauses with regard to binding and other tests. I also present evidence that the trigger in perception verb complements occupies the same position as triggers of predicate-initial clauses. It follows that the word order difference between perception verb complements and predicate-initial clauses reflects a difference in the surface position of the predicate. I propose that predicate-initial clauses include a finiteness (Fin) head in their left periphery which attracts the predicate (=TP) to check tense and EPP features, causing the predicate to raise over the trigger. In perception verb complements, which denote events rather than propositions, the Fin head is absent, and so predicate fronting fails to occur.


Malagasy Word order Perception verb complement Predicate raising VOS 



Thanks to several anonymous reviewers, and to Eric Potsdam, Ileana Paul, and audiences at the University of Toronto, BLS 42, and the 15th and 19th meetings of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association, for comments on this research. A special thanks to the following speakers for providing data: Hantavololona Rakotoarivony, Noro Ramahatafandry, Raharisoa Ramanarivo, Vola Hanta Randrianarijaona, and Vololona Rasolofoson. Misaotra betsaka tompoko! Any errors of fact and interpretation are solely my responsibility.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsReed CollegePortlandUnited States

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