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Re: Impersonal Passives and Quirky Case in Subject-Prominent Languages (was: Copula)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 10:43
Eldin Raigmore wrote:
> On Tue, 20 Mar 2007 20:15:03 +0000, R A Brown > <ray@...> wrote:
>>I do not see how this is possible if we are talking in purely >>_grammatical_ terms, i.e. we are not dealing with semantic roles. what I >>mean is that the nominative case is defined as "in a morpholologically >>*accusative*, the case used for both subjects of intransitive verbs and >>subjects of transitive verbs" [Trask]. That is, the nominative case is >>defined by being the grammatical subject. >> >>Similarly the accusative case (in nominative-accusative languages) is >>the case that marks the direct objects. > > Well, if we follow those two definitions too slavishly, there can be no such > thing as "quirky case" subjects and "quirky case" objects in Icelandic and > German and Malayalam and Hindi;
How else do you define the nominative and accusative case? I really do not understand, and I'm sorry you feel it is being 'slavish' if one understands a definition in a certain way. either words do have meanings or they behave as Humpty Dumpty made them behave. In the latter case, rational discussion becomes meaningless. [snip]
> contradiction in terms. So, Eldin, please shut up and quit wasting bandwidth."
I did not say that, and I'm sorry you feel that way. I said that I did not understand what you meant and explained why, that's all. [snip]
> 18a Icelandic Active > Ég hjálpaði þeim. > I(NOM) helped them(DAT). > > 19a Icelandic Passive > Þeim var hjálpað. > Them(DAT) was helped. > > 49a German Active > Ich habe ihm geholfen. > I(NOM) have-1sg him(DAT) helped. > > 49b German Passive > Ihm wurde geholfen. > Him(DAT) was helped.
Sorry, but for the life of me I do not see how these examples differ from Latin: Active eis succurri them(DAT) helped(1st.S) Passive eis succursum est. them(DAT) was helped Neither in Latin has a direct object - one wouldn't expect that of a passive anyway. Both have an indirect object (dative) which, from the English point of view, is quirky.
> He quotes Zaenen, Maling, and Thráinsson (1985)* as proving Þeim is the > grammatical subject of 19a, by the tests of reflexive binding, subject ellipsis, > subject-verb inversion, and raising.
Does he? Surely a prominent mark of the subject in Indo-European languages is that they control verb agreement; this is so even if, as in Welsh, a language has abandoned all case markings, even for pronouns. Does _Þeim_ control verb agreement in Icelandic? If it does not then it would seem that Paul R. Kroeger defines 'subject' differently to what I understand by the term (of course it may be that _Þeim_ does control the verb form unlike _Ihm_ in your German example or _eis_ in my Latin example - but you do not say so or give examples to show this). If we are defining 'subject' differently then quite clearly our definitions of the 'nominative case' must be different.
> But he shows Ihm is not the subject of 49b, because it fails the tests of
I agree 100% about Ihm :)
> To me, the only fly in the ointment, is that I cannot find where he proves (or > refers to someone else’s proof) that þeim and ihm are the direct objects of 18a > and 49a respectively. That’s just one of the reasons I want an “Object > Properties List” similar to Keenan’s “Subject Properties List”.
But then we shall indeed need to define 'object' very carefully. There are different sorts of objects. For example, as Jeffrey Jones pointed out in an email yesterday Direct Object and Primary Object are not the same things. If one understands by 'object' "a generic term for any noun phrase occupying an argument other than the subject" [Trask], the object is in effect defined simply as being 'an argument which is not the subject.' But clearly different types of object need defining. -- Ray ================================== ================================== TRADUTTORE TRADITORE