Most analyses of nonparadigmatic SE sentences derive their agreement patterns structurally, forcing a passive/impersonal distinction against all evidence. Instead, we uniformly analyze them as regular sentences where the T-agreeing subject is se itself, an argumental clitic pronoun, with [person] but no number φ-features, and show that the overt argument, which has object properties, does not genuinely agree in syntax. We reveal a new asymmetry between postverbal and preverbal/null arguments, which conceals two postsyntactic processes with very distinctive properties: morphological Clitic Mutation into number agreement, and T’s Number Harmony with a close DP, not ruled by syntax or morphology.
Bresnan and Nikitina (2009) and Rappaport Hovav and Levin (2008) show that, contrary to standard assumptions, fixed-theme idioms may appear in to -constructions under certain pragmatic circumstances. Bruening (2010a) contends that the cases they present are in fact R(ightward)-dative shifts, double object constructions with the object projected to the right. In this article, we argue that Bruening’s proposed theoretical apparatus is unnecessarily complex and ad hoc and falls short of explaining the main facts it is supposed to deal with, massively overgenerating. A regular PP structure is argued to be empirically more adequate and conceptually simpler, avoiding the main problems of the R-dative shift analysis. New empirical evidence concerning pairlist readings and scope freezing also suggests that the empirical facts about idioms should be reconsidered in completely different terms.