Korean '-e ci' Constructions: Anti-Causatives or Passives?

  • Received : 2016.01.19
  • Accepted : 2016.02.24
  • Published : 2016.02.28


The status of the Korean morphological marker '-e ci' has been controversial whether it is a passive marker, an anticausative marker, or a passive/anticausative marker. However, the previous approaches that tried to classify '-e ci' constructions based on the syntactic verb classes (i.e. intransitive or transitive) were short of explaining the properties of the constructions. In this study, the '-e ci' constructions were distinguished based on agentivity, following Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995) and Alexiadou et al. (2006). Moreover, how the verbal root meaning is associated with the passive/anticausative construction was investigated by means of Distributed Morphology (DM) (Embick 2010; Marantz 1997). I argued that the morphological marker '-e ci' is the instantiation of the absence of external arguments. With respect to the behavior of the Korean '-e ci' constructions with the semantics of each verbal root class, I found out that the '-e ci' constructions can form passives with the verbal roots that require the external arguments; whereas, the anticausatives cannot be formed with the roots that necessarily require the agentive arguments. However, contrary to the previous arguments that '-e ci' passives can be only formed with transitive verbs, it is discovered that non-agentive transitive roots do form anticausatives. Moreover, I argued that there are two types of the anticausatives - zero and '-e ci' anticausatives. Since the valency reduction is marked by the non-active voice morphology, the zero anticausatives appear only with the roots that do not require external arguments. The different '-e ci' constructions (passives, '-e ci', and zero anticausatives) are represented by the distinct syntactic structures. I proposed that the morphological similarity between the passives and the '-e ci' anticausatives is due to the presence of VoiceP, which introduces the external arguments. Moreover, the lack of the voice morphology in the zero anticausatives is explained by the absence of the VoiceP.



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