On the distribution and interpretation of voice in Greek anticausatives

Evripidis Tsiakmakis, Joan Manel Borras Comes, M.Teresa Espinal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper provides experimental evidence in support of the view that Greek does not have three productive morphological classes of anticausative verbs, but only two: the class of verbs that bear non-active voice morphology and the class of verbs that are morphologically active. Across two experiments, native Greek speakers are found to prefer for each anticausative verb either non-active or active voice morphological marking, in the presence or absence of explicit contextual information. It is also shown experimentally that native speakers prefer an interpretation that involves a specific cause for all anticausatives, especially when the existence of such a cause is favored by the contextual setting. Our empirical findings are consistent with the view that the Voice Phrase that is realized as non-active voice morphology in Greek anticausatives is expletive. From a theoretical perspective, we analyze the expletiveness of this Voice projection as the result of semantic redundancy: the Voice head of Greek anticausatives combines with a v head that encodes a redundant cause meaning component and is, therefore, interpreted merely as introducing an identity function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1068058
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023


  • Greek
  • anticausatives
  • experimental results
  • expletive voice
  • semantic redundancy


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