A-subjects and control in Halkomelem


  • Donna B. Gerdts Simon Fraser University
  • Thomas E. Hukari University of Victoria




We discuss evidence in Halkomelem, a Coast Salish language of British Columbia, which supports the hypothesis put forward by Manning and Sag (1999) that a universal passive argument structure (ARG-ST) is complex and has two a-subjects. We argue that morphological and syntactic control phenomena in Halkomelem are best described by saying that an a-subject is accessible, where an a-subject is the first argument on an argument structure list.

ARG-ST <bi <a, Proi, ...>>

The Halkomelem passive data show that two notions of subject are essential for capturing control phenomena. One set of constructions-motion auxiliaries, desideratives, and reflexive causatives-involve linking to the internal a-subject. One construction-the control construction–links to either the highest a-subject or the internal a-subject. Similar conclusions have been drawn for data from Russian (Perlmutter 1984), Philippine languages (Schachter 1984), and other languages of the world. As Manning and Sag (1998) point out, one does not have to draw the conclusion that passive must be given a multilevel syntactic analysis from such data. Rather, their analysis of passive, which posits a complex argument structure, easily accounts for Halkomelem. Control facts in Halkomelem, with examples drawn from both morphological and syntactic constructions, can be added to the catalog of phenomenon that support this view of the passive.




How to Cite

Gerdts, Donna B. & Hukari, Thomas E. 2001. A-subjects and control in Halkomelem. The Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 100–123. (doi:10.21248/hpsg.2000.6) (https://proceedings.hpsg.xyz/article/view/514) (Accessed September 22, 2023.)