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unaccusative verb

GENERAL: Special kind of intransitive verb. Semantically, its subject does not actively initiate or is not actively responsible for the action of the verb; rather, it has properties which it shares with the direct object of a transitive verb (or better, with the grammatical subject of its passive counterpart). EXAMPLE: in English arrive, die and fall are unaccusative verbs. Another term is ergative verb.
LIT. Burzio, L. (1986)

SYNTAX: verb that assigns no external theta-role and no structural Case. Its argument is in object position at D-structure, but has to move to subject position in order to receive (nominative) Case (from INFL). The syntactic behaviour of unaccusatives differs in various ways from non-unaccusative intransitive verbs ( unergative verbs). In languages that have a distinction between the perfective auxiliaries 'to be' and 'to have', the unaccusatives take 'to be', while the unergatives take 'to have'. EXAMPLE: the Italian sentences in (i) and the Dutch sentences in (ii) are examples.

(i)    a  ha telefonato Gianni
	  has telephoned G
       b   arrivato Claudio
	  is arrived C

(ii)   a Jan heeft getelefoneerd
   	 J has telephoned
       b Klaas is gearriveerd
	 K has arrived
Furthermore, unaccusatives cannot be passivized, as opposed to unergatives (in languages with impersonal passives). This is shown by the contrast between the Dutch (iii) and (iv).
(iii)	er wordt door Jan getelefoneerd
	there is by J telephoned

(iv)   *er wordt door Klaas gearriveerd
	there is by K arrived
In Italian, a further diagnostic to distinguish unaccusatives from unergatives is the possibility of ne-cliticization.
LIT. Belletti, A. & L. Rizzi (1981)
Besten, H. den (1985)
Burzio, L. (1981)
Hoekstra, J. (1988)
Perlmutter, D. (1978)
Perlmutter, D. & P. Postal (1984)