A Case Study of the P Demotion Operation





P demotion operation, syntactic valency, incorporation, verbal marking, antipassive construction


P demotion is an umbrella term which refers to an operation performed on verbal valency. This mechanism results in a range of different constructions sharing two characteristics: the P argument loses the properties of a core argument without affecting the semantic role of the A argument. This study examines a particular case of P demotion operation called antipassive. Until recently, the antipassive construction was regarded as a particularity of a morphologically ergative type of alignment, which, triggered by an explicit verbal marker, stands in a symmetrical relationship to the passive construction. These false beliefs blindly repeated for decades were, however, at hte time well-justified. They resulted from the misinterpretation of the definition proposed by Silverstein (1972, 1976) and more importantly from the lack of adequate crosslinguistic data. However, a growing body of recent studies enables the questioning of the traditional view of the antipassive. It also provides new insights into the form and function of this construction as well as into language-specific and crosslinguistic variations. This contribution provides an overview of the most important issue involved in this particular type of the P demotion construction, with an attempt to expain the factors  which could have biased its investigation.


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How to Cite

Janic, K. (2020). A Case Study of the P Demotion Operation. Forum for Contemporary Issues in Language and Literature, (1), 56–92. https://doi.org/10.34739/fci.2020.01.05