We present an analysis of an underdescribed construction common to Canadian and Philadelphian English dialects which appears to involve an instance of the copula/passive auxiliary be, a participial form of finish or do, and a DP complement receiving accusative Case (see Yerastov (2008) for a descriprition and discussion of its geographical distribution). This construction, which is fully productive and non-idiomatic, is illustrated in (1).
- I'm finished/done my homework.
This construction raises a number of problems for the theory of Case-assignment and argument structure, including
- What is the category of the phrase headed by the participle?
- Where is the external argument introduced?
- Where does the accusative Case of the internal argument come from, given the apparently passive structure.
- Why is this construction lexically restricted to the participles of finish and do.
We argue that the structure for (1) is given in (3).
The answers to questions (2a-2d) are then
- The construction involves a resultative adjectival passive, rather than a full eventive passive or an active past participle (i.e. there is no Voice head)
- The external argument is therefore introduced not in spec-VoiceP (which is absent) but in the subject position of the adjectival small clause (which we depict here as spec-aP).
- The accusative Case of the internal argument is assigned by a little-a head, perhaps similar to the little-a head which assigns accusative case to the objects of worth.
- The lexical specificity of this construction is due to the selectional properties of this little-a head.