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Re: CHAT: Esperanto and prepositions taking the nominative [was Re: CHAT: Back on the list; Anti-conlanging bigots]

From:Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>
Date:Thursday, December 6, 2001, 20:06
--- In conlang@y..., "Thomas R. Wier" <trwier@M...> wrote:

> It is arguable, however, that this allative sense is really layered > over the underlying case assignment of null-nominative. Note that > we also see such layering in a natural language, German, where the > dative is retained even when the passive is used: > > (3) Der(NOM) Mann hat mir(DAT) geholfen. > The man helped me. > (4) Mir(DAT) wird geholfen. > I am helped.
The German passive typically moves the accusative object of a transitive verb into the subject slot: (a) Der Mann (NOM) fängt den Fisch (ACC). The man catches a fish. (b) Der Fisch (NOM) wird gefangen. The fish is caught. In a sentence with both accusative and dative objects, the dative remains unchanged: (c) Der Mann (NOM) gibt der Frau (DAT) den Fisch (ACC). The man gives the fish to the woman. (d) Der Fisch (NOM) wird der Frau (DAT) gegeben. The fish is given to the woman. The problem arises when there isn't an accusative object to transform into a subject. In your sentence, there is no subject present, though it seems you're dropping the generic stand-in subject "es" that could be used in this situation: (e) Es (NOM) wird dem Mann (DAT) geholfen. The man is helped. [lit. *"It is helped to the man."] The "es" doesn't really have any other duty than to provide a subject to the passive sentence, it doesn't correspond to any former accusative object (which the verb "helfen" couldn't support anyway). Correct me if I'm wrong, you seem to be more of a linguist than I. -- Christian Thalmann


Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>