Being as big as small clauses get: the syntax of participial adjuncts in German and English
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This paper presents a comparative syntactic account of participial adjuncts in German and English. While the typological literature describes German participial adjuncts as much more restricted than their English counterparts both syntactically and semantically, this paper presents empirical evidence that these differences have been exaggerated. Based on a corpus of more than 3000 participial adjuncts, it is argued that these adjuncts have a clause-like internal structure in both languages. Participial adjuncts are analysed as small clauses that can project all the way up to CP level, with a subject that is either phonetically null PRO controlled via Agree or an overt DP that is case licensed either by an element outside the participial clause or through default case. At the same time, the corpus data show that these participial constructions constitute a versatile group of adjuncts when it comes to their argument-structural properties and categorial nature. An analysis couched within the framework of Distributed Morphology is presented that can account for this diversity. This empirically based and theoretically founded account of participial adjuncts contributes to our understanding of the structural possibilities of small clauses cross-linguistically.