Secondary Agents in Get-Passives: Syntax or Pragmatics?
Gotowski, Megan K.
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The following paper addresses the apparent "responsibility reading" that is often associated with the get-passive (e.g. interpreting Maria got caught' as Maria got (herself) caught'). This interpretation is first explored via an experimental study with Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Participants are significantly more likely (p < 0.05) to select a get-passive when the subject could be construed as contributing to the action of the lower predicate. The results of this pilot study are then analyzed in terms of the potential consequences, or implications, for the syntax. Overall, we will argue that the availability of this reading is only found given the right pragmatic conditions. As a result, we caution that the availability of particular readings does not necessitate building "responsibility" into the syntax of the adult grammar.