The goal of this article is to understand the syntax of Icelandic indirect causatives (ICs), especially with respect to the implicit causee. We show that the complement of the causative verb must be at least as large as a VoiceP, and that it shares some properties with active VoicePs and others with passive VoicePs. We make sense of this state of affairs by proposing that the causee, while phonetically silent, has an explicit syntactic representation, but as a φP rather than a DP. We further propose that ICs are built by stacking a second VoiceP on top of the lexical verb’s first VoiceP, and that this configuration, along with the underspecified interpretation of φP, leads to a special thematic interpretation of both the causer and the implicit causee. Our analysis suggests that there are certain core ingredients involved in building ICs—such as stacked VoicePs and an underspecified causee—but that the source of these ingredients can vary across languages and constructions, depending on the formal primitives that grammars make available to the languages more generally.
We discuss remarkable constructions in Icelandic that have the distributive pronoun hvor ‘each’ in common: the reciprocal construction hvor annar ‘each other’, and the distributive construction hvor sinn ‘each their’, which also comes in a sinn hvor ‘their each’ version. We provide the first detailed description of these constructions, in particular their case and word order properties, which raise recalcitrant puzzles, and then we discuss what they say about the syntax of nonfinite verbs. Specifically, the word order and case properties of these constructions indicate that nonfinite verbs in Icelandic undergo short verb movement within the verb phrase. That is, the evidence indicates that the leftmost element in these constructions, alternatively hvor or sinn , originates inside an object DP and moves, by what we call e-raising, to the base position of an antecedent with which it agrees, before being stranded by that very antecedent. Nevertheless, the verb appears to the left of this element, even when it is a nonfinite verb, showing that it must undergo short movement to the left of Spec,vP. In addition, the interaction of e-raising and case has important consequences for Case theory, as it indicates that case agreement and case marking take place in PF.