This topic needs researched: special passives in English
Aguado Garate, Ane
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This paper is a study of the grammatical construction needs done (formed by need/want/like + past participle) which can currently be attested in a number of English varieties. Despite this relatively widespread distribution, little attention has been paid to the usage as well as features of this construction until recent years. This being so, this study aims at filling this gap in the literature. For this purpose, on the one hand, the so-cio-geographical distribution of the construction is examined in order to comprehend in which English varieties and by which type of English speakers needs done is used. On the other hand, its morphosyntactic characteristics are analysed in an attempt to ascer-tain what type of construction it is, specifically whether it is a passive, a middle or some-thing different. The latter goal is achieved by means of comparing the needs done con-struction with passives and middles, two constructions which most closely resemble needs done according to Murray & Simon (1999) and Whitman (2010), among others. Taking into account that only a few investigations have revolved around the construc-tion’s morphosyntactic characteristics and that their results are not consistent with one another I collected my own data through an acceptability test responded by 68 speakers of English. The analysis of results shows that the main similarities between passives and needs done are related to register, meaning, type of subject and the acceptability of by-phrases, whereas middles share with needs done the meaning of the construction and their compatibility with for- phrases. The most significant differences concern need and the participle; in particular, findings from this study reveal that need is the (main) verb in the construction and can assign theta roles; thus, need takes a verbal participle as its complement, a position that can be filled also by a nominal. I conclude this paper by arguing that differences between the three constructions are more significant than simi-larities and, therefore, the needs done construction should be considered neither a pas-sive nor a middle, but an independent construction which has its own features. I base this conclusion on my finding that some of the needs done construction’s properties may be shared by the above mentioned structures, but others are crucially different.