Some syntactic and semantic properties of the existential construction in malagasy

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1588-1630
Journal / PublicationLingua
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


The existential construction with the predicate - isy in Malagasy is shown to have an unaccusative structure in which the predicate may take either (i) a DP-complement, with an optional locative adjunct and an optional PP or (ii) an IP-complement. The structure is empirically supported by various facts about adverb placement, coordination, word-order, extraction, certain cases of tense-matching between - isy and a following thematic predicate, as well as the lack of the stage-level vs individual-level predicate distinction in the construction. It is argued that the predicate - isy introduces an existential quantifier binding (i) a variable that certain DPs or the locative phrase can in principle provide or (ii) the event or unprojected arguments of a thematic predicate. The definiteness effect arises from existential quantification interacting with the structure of headless relative clauses and the constraint barring strong quantifiers in predicate position. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Research Area(s)

  • Constituent structure, Definiteness effect, Extraction, Headless relative clauses, Predicate of existence, Strong quatifiers, Tense-matching, Unselective binding, Word-order