Aspect as an indicator of a clausal size in Involuntary State Constructions in BCS

Anna Melnikova


Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) has a productive ‘involuntary state construction (ISC) with a modal interpretation. There is an ongoing debate concerning the syntactic complexity of this construction. According to one account – the “mono-clausal analysis”, ISCs have only one (overt) lexical verb, and the modal interpretation stems from the imperfective operator (Rivero and Milojević-Sheppard 2003,Rivero 2009, Tsedryk 2016). There is also a “bi-clausal account” which argues in favor of a covert matrix verb of involuntary disposition feel-like, which takes a clausal ModP complement, giving the modal interpretation (Marušič & Žaucer 2005 [henceforth M&Ž]). In this paper, I provide additional evidence in favor of the bi-clausal approach and in so doing, account for a previously unresolved aspectual restriction on the construction, namely that it is ungrammatical with a perfective lexical verb. The main claim is that the unavailability of perfective in the ISC is due to selectional properties of covert feel-like, which results in the violation of requirements on perfective.


Slavic languages; involuntary constructions; covert verb; requirements on aspect; bi-clausality

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