The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 3/14 - Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine and Hadas Kotek

Speakers: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine and Hadas Kotek
Title: Blocking in English causatives
Date/Time: Thursday, Mar 14, 12:30-1:45p
Location: 32-D461

There is much work on the two causative constructions in Japanese: *lexical* causatives, which are monoclausal constructions with listed, unproductive morphological forms; and *analytic* causatives, which are biclausal and utilize a productive causative suffix -(s)ase. In particular, Japanese causatives exhibit a *blocking effect*, where for verbs which have a listed, lexical causative form, this lexical causative can “block” the use of the more general analytic causative. In this talk we present new data on causatives in English and argue that “make” causatives and lexical causatives in English are the same as (or at least strikingly similar to) the two causatives in Japanese, in terms of syntactic structure, semantics, and also the blocking of “make” causatives by corresponding lexical causatives. However, in English this “blocking” is often not apparent, because the causee can intervene between “make” and the verb. This data provides evidence for certain spellout processes (such as fusion, in DM terms) being sensitive to linear adjacency, and also is an argument for post-syntactic construction of derivational morphology as in DM and contra the Lexicalist Hypothesis.