This article shows how a systematic impersonalization alternation in Russian provides additional evidence for underspecification in argument structure. In the case of a large class of lexically causative verbs, the causer is realized either as a volitional Agent in the nominative case or as an oblique-marked, nonvolitional causer, depending on how the event is construed. A causative theory of accusative is advanced, according to which the mere presence of external causation is a sufficient condition for accusative licensing, including those cases that lack an external argument altogether. The analysis is extended to explain accusative preservation in the Icelandic “fate accusative” construction.

You do not currently have access to this content.