Spanish causatives

Two specs for causees and two ways to resolve case


  • Francisco Ordoñez Stony Brook University (SUNY)


Spanish, contrary to Catalan, French and Italian, allows causees to appear in pre-infinitival position. This paper takes as initial point of departure the asymmetries between the pre-infinitival position vs. the post-infinitival discussed in Ordóñez and Saab (2017). I provide a cartographic account in which more than one site for causees must be posited. This proposal follows the same reasoning that posits more than one subject position in the clausal spine (see for instance Cardinaletti 2004).  I characterize the higher pre-infinitival position as a criterial position in the sense of Rizzi (2006, 2007). Following that proposal, I address the question of the interaction of case in this higher causee projection.  I adopt Baker and Vinokurova’s (2010) proposal that UG must allow two ways for case resolution: case via agreement and dependent case. I will show that Spanish spoken in Catalonia is uniform in its case assignment solution of dative case for causees. I propose that the higher causee projection is an applicative head which assigns dative uniformly.  However, for Catalan, Italian and French and many other dialects of Spanish, case assignment depends on the transitivity of the infinitival verb. In these varieties I invoke dependent case.


causatives, dependent case, word order, dativization, Spanish dialects


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