Alternations of Italian

Alternations
Alternation name Description Examples Verbs
U
n A transitive pattern derived from an intransitive construction, with the original adjunct promoted to object status. Unlike in canonical applicative constructions (Peterson 2007, Polinsky 2008), there is no change in the verb morphology.
(813)
Marco urlò il suo dolore.
Marco
Mark
url-ò
scream-PST.3SG
il
ART.DEF.M.SG
su-o
his-M.SG
dolor-e
pain-M.SG
‘Mark screamed with rage. / lit. Mark screamed his rage.’
1
U
n Optionality of the P argument, according to the interplay of the aspectual characteristics of the predicate, the degree of thematic specification of the subject (i.e., agentivity/control), the inherent characteristics of P (e.g., animacy), the degree of semantic implication (i.e., 'lexical solidarity', Coseriu 1971) between the verb and the P argument, as well as the linguistic and extralinguistic context. As a general rule the object is optional with verbs lacking an inherent final/terminal point, as with activity verbs allowing a resultative use, or resultatives with animate objects in iterative uses, whereby the focus is on the event itself rather than on its impingement on the P argument (Levin 1993: 33, Lo Duca 2000, Cennamo 2003, 2011d, Jezek 2003: 94-104, Siller-Runggaldier 2003, int. al.).
(2)
Marco mangia (molto).
Marco
Mark
mangi-a
eat-PRS.3SG
molto
a_lot
‘Mark eats a lot.’
21
C
y A pattern with P-orientation, a marked verb morphology (the auxiliary essere 'BE', venire 'COME', andare 'GO' + the past participle of the lexical verb), A suppression/deletion (optionally surfacing as a prepositional phrase introduced by the prepositions da 'by'/da parte di 'on behalf of' + A), topicalization and subjectization of non-Agent. The auxiliary is realized by: (i) BE (essere), in imperfective and perfective tenses; (ii) COME (venire), in imperfective tenses only; (iii) GO (andare), with deontic value and, marginally, in perfective tenses with some accomplishments.
Passivization is possible with achievements (e.g.
strappare 'tear'), accomplishments (e.g. bruciare 'burn', affondare 'sink', costruire 'build', uccidere 'kill'), activities (e.g. dire 'tell', abbracciare 'hug'), and marginally with states (e.g. vedere 'see', amare 'love'), but with non generic Ps (Cennamo 2003: 53, Cennamo 2010).
(3)
Gli spaghetti furono mangiati da tutti.
gli
ART.DEF.M.PL
spaghett-i
spaghetti-M.PL
fu-rono
be.PST-3PL
mangia-t-i
eat-PP-M.PL
da
by
tutt-i
all-M.PL
‘The spaghetti was eaten by everyone.’
61
C
y The intransitive variant of a transitive pattern, where the prepositional encoding of the P argument reflects the lack of attainment of the verbal process, with ensuing low degree of affectedness of P (Levin 1993: 41-42, Cennamo 2003, 2011d, int. al.). 0
C
y The use of the 3sg./pl. reflexive pronoun si to mark a P-oriented pattern where the original P of a corresponding transitive verb occurs as subject and A is deleted, only marginally surfacing as a prepositional phrase headed by da parte di ('on the part of'). In its canonical realizations, in the unmarked word order [N si V] the S(ubject) occurs in the preverbal position, it is definite, referential and conveys given information (Cennamo 1995: 85-86). In compound tenses the auxiliary selected is always BE essere, in all reflexive patterns.
(27)
Il pesce in Giappone si mangia crudo.
il
ART.DEF.M.SG
pesc-e
fish-M.SG
in
in
Giappone
Japan
si
REFL
mangi-a
eat-PRS.3SG
crud-o
raw-M.SG
‘Fish in Japan is eaten raw.’
60
U
n An uncoded alternation where the canonical/non canonical (i.e. prepositional) encoding of the P argument of a transitive verb reflects the holistic/partitive interpretation of the location argument (Levin 1993: 50). When the location argument is expressed as a canonical object (i.e., as a noun phrase), it is associated with a 'holistic/affected' interpretation; when the location argument is realized as a prepositional phrase, it is associated with a 'partitive' interpretation (Levin 1993: 50-51, Iwata 2008 and references therein).
(18)
I venditori caricano la loro macchina di giornali e libri.
i
ART.DEF.M.PL
venditor-i
seller-M.PL
carica-no
load.PRS-3PL
la
ART.DEF.F.SG
loro
their
macchin-a
car-F.SG
di
of
giornal-i
newspaper-M.PL
e
and
libr-i
book-M.PL
‘The sellers load newspapers and books onto their car.’
1
C
y A coded valency decreasing operation marked by the reflexive morpheme si, whereby the original P argument/object of a transitive verb surfaces as subject. The core of the category is realized by inherently telic predicates. The process is presented as taking place spontaneously, without an external causer, that is, however, part of the lexical representation of the verb (Koonz-Garboden 2009).
(113)
La corda si tagliò in quel punto.
la
ART.DEF.F.SG
cord-a
rope-F.SG
si
REFL
tagli-ò
cut-PST.3SG
in
in
quel
that.M.SG
punt-o
point-M.SG
‘The rope cut in that point.’
10
C
y The use of the reflexive pronoun si with (di)transitive verbs. Si is an argument of the verb, coreferent with the agentive A subject, denoting either the Goal/Beneficiary of the verbal activity or Possession in its canonical realizations. In its non-canonical realizations, si is not an argument of the verb, but denotes the degree of involvement/participation of the subject in the verbal activity (so-called Benefactive/Ethic Dative), frequently used in informal registers (Cennamo 2011c and references therein).
(12)
Il gatto si è mangiato tutto il filetto.
il
ART.DEF.M.SG
gatt-o
cat-M.SG
si
REFL
è
be.PRS.3SG
mangia-t-o
eat-PP-M.SG
tutt-o
all-M.SG
il
ART.DEF.M.SG
filett-o
fillet-M.SG
‘The cat has eaten the whole fillet.’
37
U
n An alternation occurring with verbs of different aspectual classes (achievements, accomplishments, activities), where the prepositional non-core argument (i.e., the adjunct) of the original transitive pattern occurs as subject and the original agent (A) is no longer expressed. It comprises different subtypes, such as the Instrument subject alternation (e.g., la palla ruppe la finestra, 'the ball broke the window'), the Instrument subject alternation with object omission, where the predicate refers to the activity itself as carried out by an Instrument, and confined to modal or negative polarity contexts (e.g., il coltello non taglia bene, 'the knife does not cut well'), the Locatum subject alternation (e.g., i quadri riempivano la casa, 'the pictures filled the house'), the Possessor subject (e.g., la magrezza di Mario spaventa, 'Mario’s skinniness frightens') (Levin 1993: 76-77; 79-83, Lo Duca 2000 for Italian).
(5)
Il coltello non taglia bene.
il
ART.DEF.M.SG
coltell-o
knife-M.SG
non
NEG
tagli-a
cut-PRS.3SG
bene
ADV
‘The knife doesn't cut well.’
20
C
y A pattern denoting a situation in which the A argument is non-agentive, animate and coreferential with P. This is signaled by the reflexive pronoun, that is not an argument of the verb but a marker of the degree of involvement of the non-agentive subject, lacking control over the verbal process.
(111)
Marco si è tagliato involontariamente il dito con i vetri.
Marco
Mark
si
REFL
è
be.PRS.3SG
taglia-t-o
cut-PP-M.SG
in-volontaria-mente
not-willing-ADV
il
ART.DEF.M.SG
dit-o
finger-M.SG
con
with
i
ART.DEF.M.PL
vetr-i
glass-M.PL
‘Mark cut his finger by accident with the glass.’
9
C
y A pattern where the verb is (di)transitive and the two nuclear arguments A and P act on each other and are both agent and patient of the verbal activity (Benefactive in Indirect Reciprocal Reflexive). In its non-canonical realizations A may be inanimate. In this pattern, reciprocity is often overtly expressed by means of the adverbials a vicenda, reciprocamente 'reciprocally' and by phrases such as l'un l'altro 'each other', which disambiguate the reflexive from the reciprocal interpretations (Cennamo 2011c and references therein).
(9)
Anna e Luca si sono piaciuti subito.
Anna
Anne
e
and
Luca
Luke
si
REFL
sono
be.PRS.3PL
piaci-ut-i
like-PP-M.PL
subito
immediately
‘Anne and Luke immediatly liked each other.’
31
U
n An uncoded valency decreasing operation, whereby the original P argument/object of a transitive verb occurs as subject, with formal identity between the transitive – intransitive use of the verbal form, also called P-lability. The process is presented as taking place spontaneously, without an external causer, that is, however, part of the lexical representation of the verb (Haspelmath 1987, Levin & Rappaport Hovav 1995, Koonz-Garboden 2009).
(8)
Il masso rotolò fino a fondovalle.
il
ART.DEF.M.SG
mass-o
rock-M.SG
rotol-ò
roll-PST.3SG
a
to
fondovall-e
downhill-F.SG
‘The rock rolled all the way down to the bottom of the valley.’
5
C
y A coded intransitive-like alternation, characterized by defocusing of the S/A argument (according to whether the verb is monovalent or divalent), that is suppressed and signaled by the reflexive morpheme si. This morpheme marks an indefinite human participant, with variable interpretation (generic or existential/indefinite, optionally comprising the Speech Act Participants, as in the first person plural, inclusive interpretation), according to the temporal reference of the clause and the aspectual nature of the predicate. With divalent verbs, in the unmarked word order [si V N] the P-subject (i.e., the nominal agreeing with the verb) occurs in the postverbal position, and is most typically indefinite, and conveys new information (Cennamo 1995: 85-86, Bentley 2006, D'Alessandro 2007, Cennamo 2011c and references therein).
(114)
Si tagliò la corda per liberare il cane.
si
REFL
tagli-ò
cut-PST.3SG
la
ART.DEF.F.SG
cord-a
rope-F.SG
per
to
libera-re
free-INF
il
ART.DEF.M.SG
can-e
dog-M.SG
‘One/We/They (indef.) cut the rope to set the dog free.’
88
U
n A valency increasing alternation, whereby a monovalent verb becomes divalent and a divalent verb becomes trivalent, through the adjoining of two predicates, the governing matrix verb - fare 'make' (the factitive/coercive causative)/lasciare 'let' (the permissive causative) - and a dependent infinitive (Shibatani & Pardeshi 2002, int. al.). The two verbs form a complex predicate, functioning as one unit, with ensuing restructuring of their original argument structure.
If the adjoined infinitive is monovalent, its original subject (
cucchiaio 'spoon' in (i)) becomes the object of the complex predicate far(e)/lasciar(e) cadere (postverbal if nominal, as in (ia), preverbal if pronominal, as in (ib)). If the adjoined infinitive is divalent, or trivalent, its original object and indirect objects (dolce 'cake' in (ii), a Giovanna in (iii)) function, respectively, as the direct object and indirect object of the complex predicate (far(e)/lasciar(e) mangiare 'make/let eat' in (ii), far(e)/lasciar(e) inviare 'make/let send' in (iii)). The original subject is expressed, instead, as either an indirect object, headed by a 'to', or as an agentive phrase, headed by da 'by', reflecting a difference in control, low in the former form, high in the latter.
With the permissive,
lasciare 'let', however, only the a-phrase is possible if the dependent infinitive is a stative verb, never the da-phrase (iv). Interestingly, the degree of acceptability of the da-phrase appears to reflect the aspectual characteristics of the verb, since it is possible with accomplishments and achievements (ii), odd/marginally acceptable with active accomplishments (e.g., mangiare 'eat' ) (iii) and impossible with statives (iv):

(i) a.
Marco fece/lasciò cadere il cucchiaio.
Mark made/let fall the spoon
b.
Marco lo fece/lasciò cadere.
Mark it made/let fall
'Mark made/let it fall.'
(ii)
Marco fece/lasciò inviare il libro a Giovanna da Anna.
Mark made/let send the book to Jane by Anne
'Mark made/let Jane send the book to Anne.'
(iii)
Marco fece/lasciò mangiare il dolce a suo padre/da suo
padre.
Mark made/let eat the cake to his father/by his father
'Mark made/let his father eat the cake.'
(iv)
Marco lasciò vedere il quadro a Luca/*da Luca.
Mark let.PST.3SG see the painting to Luke/*by Luke
'Mark let Luke see the painting.'

When the dependent infinitive is a reflexive verb, in the factitive construction the verb occurs without
si, as in (iv):

(iv)
Marco fece/lasciò radere (*radersi) Giovanni .
Mark made/let shave (*shave himself) John
'Mark made/let John shave.'
(7)
L'insegnante fa piacere la matematica agli studenti.
l'=insegnant-e
ART.DEF.M/F.SG=teacher-M/F.SG
fa
make.PRS.3SG
piace-re
like-INF
la
ART.DEF.F.SG
matematic-a
maths-F.SG
a-gli
to-ART.DEF.M.PL
student-i
student-M.PL
‘The teacher gets the students to like Maths.’
93
C
y A pattern where the verb is transitive, A is animate, high in Potency and coreferent with P, which is signaled by the reflexive morpheme si, that is an argument of the verb, as shown by the applicability of the substitution test, whereby si can be replaced either by the tonic form sé stesso 'oneself' as in (iia) or by a clitic complement pronoun, lo, in (iib):

(i)
il ladro si nascose dietro una siepe.
The thief REFL hid behind a hedge
'The thief hid himself behind a hedge.'
(ii)a.
il ladro nascose sé stesso
'The thief hid himself behind a hedge.'
(ii)b.
il ladro lo nascose
The thief him hid
'The thief hid him.'

The distinction among different types of reflexive patterns is to be seen as a gradient, with overlapping of categories at their periphery, in their non-canonical realizations. It is not always easy, in fact, to detect the function of the reflexive morpheme
si, owing to the complex interplay between syntactic and semantic features, resulting also from different diachronic paths (Cennamo 1995, 2011d).
(120)
Alcuni bambini si sono rotolati per terra.
alcun-i
some-M.PL
bambin-i
child-M.PL
si
REFL
sono
be.PRS.3PL
rotola-t-i
roll-PP-M.PL
per
through
terr-a
ground-F.SG
‘Some children have rolled on the ground.’
25
C
y The corresponding impersonal form of (direct/indirect/reciprocal/middle/inherent) reflexives, with defocusing of the A/S argument, surfacing as ci, the 1st person plural clitic pronoun replacing impersonal si, whereby one finds the [ci si V] pattern instead of the sequence [si si V] (Cennamo 2010, 2011c). Ci marks an indefinite human participant, with variable interpretation (generic or existential/indefinite, optionally comprising the Speech Act Participants, as in the first person plural, inclusive interpretation), according to the temporal reference of the clause and the aspectual nature of the predicate.
(32)
Ci si vede spesso d'estate.
ci
IMP
si
REFL
ved-e
see-PRS.3SG
spesso
often
d'=estat-e
of=summer-F.SG
‘We often meet each other in the summer.’
57
C
y A coded intransitive alternation showing defocusing of both A and P, and a passive verb morphology, signaled by a form of the auxiliaries essere 'BE', venire 'COME', occurring in the unmarked 3rd person singular. A is deleted, optionally surfacing as a prepositional phrase headed by the da 'by', and P is defocused, realized by the (reflexive) morpheme si. The past participle of the lexical verb agrees with the underlying unexpressed argument (P), signaled by si (Cennamo 2010, 2014).
(500)
Si viene trasportati in un mondo fantastic-o.
si
REFL
vien-e
come.PRS-3SG
trasporta-t-i
carry-PP-M.PL
in
into
un
ART.INDF.M
mond-o
world-M.SG
fantastic-o
fantastic-M.SG
‘One is carried/We/You/They (indef.) are transported into a fantastic world.’
39
U
n The (in)transitive variant of a pattern involving a possessor object and a possessed body part, which may be encoded either as an object noun phrase (e.g., L’uomo colpì la spalla di Marco 'The man beat Mark’s shoulder'), or may be expressed as a prepositional phrase (e.g., L’uomo colpì Marco sulla spalla 'The man beat Mark on his shoulder') (Levin 1993: 71-77).
(633)
L'uomo colpì la spalla di Marco.
l'=uom-o
ART.DEF.M.SG=man-M.SG
colp-ì
beat-PST.3SG
la
ART.DEF.F.SG
spall-a
shoulder-F.SG
di
of
Marco
Mark
‘The man hit Mark’s shoulder.’
6
U
n The (in)transitive variant of a pattern involving a possessor object and a possessed attribute, which may be encoded either as an object noun phrase (e.g., Temo l’arroganza di Giovanni 'I fear John’s arrogance'), or may be expressed as a prepositional phrase (e.g., Temo Giovanni per la sua arroganza ‘I fear John for his arrogance) (Levin 1993: 71-77).
(773)
Conosco l'onestà di Marco.
conosc-o
know-PRS.1SG
l'=onestà
ART.DEF.F.SG=integrity.F.SG
di
of
Marco
Mark
‘I know Mark's integrity.’
2
C
y A pattern where the verb is (di)transitive and the A arguments and the recipient/benefactive argument act on each other and are both Benefactive of the verbal activity. In its non-canonical realizations A may be inanimate. In this pattern, reciprocity is often overtly expressed by means of the adverbials a vicenda, reciprocamente 'reciprocally' and by phrases such as l'un l'altro 'each other', which disambiguate the reflexive from the reciprocal interpretations (Cennamo 2011c and references therein).
(522)
Anna e Luca si lavano le mani l'un l'altra.
Anna
Anne
e
and
Luca
Luke
si
REFL
lava-no
wash-PRS.3PL
le
ART.DEF.F.PL
man-i
hand-F.PL
l'
ART.DEF.M.SG
un
one.M.SG
l'
ART.DEF.M.SG
altr-a
other-F.SG
‘Anne and Luke are washing each other's hands.’
26