Friday, October 21, 2005

Infinitivals in subject position

Spanish easily accepts infinitival clauses in subject positions:

(1) Bailar es peligroso
(2) Bailar en el jardín es peligroso
(3) Matar un hombre en el jardín es peligroso

But with certain verbs this constructions is banned from the subject position:

(4) *Haber un hombre en el jardín es peligroso
(5) *Estar un hombre en el jardín es peligroso
(6) *Llover es peligroso

Intuitively, it seems that verbs that do not have a subject position cannot be in subject position. But this correlation is rather odd, since there is no reason why it should be the case that a verb that does not have a subject---like "llover," for instance---cannot be itself a subject.

The situation is even more complicated if we take in consideration verbs like "estar." Under standard analyses, this verb takes an small clause (SC), and the nominal inside SC raises to become the subjet of "estar":

(7) Estar [SC [un hombre] [en el jardín] ]
(8) [Un hombre] está [SC [t [en el jardín] ] ]

So we could say that (4) is bad because [un hombre] is not allowed to raise to become subject of "estar" (which is after all a non-inflected verb there). But what about "llover"? Is there any way to explain (4-6) in a uniform matter?


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