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German and English past participles in perfect and passive contexts: an identity view

Carsten Breul, Dennis Wegner

Pages 1 - 58

Both the perfect and the passive in German and English involve a word form that is commonly known as the past participle. This raises the question whether a past participle associated with a given verb is not only phonologically but also semantically and syntactically identical in the perfect and in the passive. Complete identity, not just homophony, is the preferred option for theoretical and diachronic reasons. However, synchronically, it is not obvious how the very same syntactic and semantic properties of a past participle can be shown to yield a perfect on the one hand and a passive on the other. While important insights for a solution of this problem can be found in the literature, the emerging picture is still fragmented and, on the whole, inconclusive. Arguing within a generative framework, we present ideas that may contribute to a confirmation and a more coherent explanation of the identity of the past participle in the perfect and in the passive.


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