THEORY: Case mismatches (was: Re: Viko Notes)
|From:||Marcus Smith <smithma@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, June 26, 2002, 18:10|
On Wed, 26 Jun 2002, Philip Newton wrote:
> On the other hand, a bunch of people say "Give it to Jim and I" and/or
> "Him and me saw the car go past", so as soon as another word (even
> another pronoun, in some cases) is joint subject or object along with a
> pronoun, the pronoun may change case.
Yes, but this is not a phenomenon restricted to English or even languages
with a poor case system. The "Give it to Jim and I"-variety is by far the
more common type of improper case, showing up in Sanskrit, Greek, Old
Irish, and Italian, just to name a few Indo-European languages. In
Sanskrit and Greek, to my knowledge, this only occurs in vocative contexts
like the folloing in Sanskrit:
vayav indras ca
Vayu(Voc) Indra(Nom) and
'O Vayu and and Inrda'
Old Irish occassionally does this with objects (accusative coordinated
with nominative) and Italian does this with subjects were the second
coordinated element is the second person, e.g., io (nom) e te (acc).
Leaving the world Indo-European, this also shows up in American Indian
languages like the Uto-Aztecan language Chemehuevi.
Julian Bridgeti -wa'a -kw
Julian(nom) Bridget(acc) -and(acc) -acc
'Julian and Bridget'
Even Biblical and Samaritan Hebrew did this kind of thing. I can't really
send the proper transliteration via email (at least not if I want people
to be able to read it), but here is one example from Biblical Hebrew.
Uvo? ho?ari we ?eT haddov
came.3sg.masc the.lion and non-nom the.bear
`And there came a lion and a bear'
The type of coordination where both conjuncts are in the wrong case is
also found around the world.
Spanish (nominative rather than accusative)
para tu y you
for you(nom) and I(nom)
Norwegian (accusative rather than nominative)
meg og deg hjalp...
me(acc) and you(acc) helped...
Qafar (absolutive rather than nominative)
kaa -kee tet yemeeten
he(abs) and she(abs) came
This topic was part of my MA thesis, so I have lots more I could say about
this. But in short, people don't deal well with conjunctions. They know
how to handle single arguments, but when you throw in a coordination, the
"rules" get broken. People are not even consistent in how they break the
"rules". Some languages misassign case (like in all the examples above),
while in other language people get the agreement "wrong", and in yet
others both get "messed up".
It seems to me that our brains are wired to do coordination, and our
brains are wired to have case (and agreement). But our brains are not
wired very well for combining the two.