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CONLANG Digest - 21 Feb 2004 to 22 Feb 2004 (#2004-52)

From:Mangiat <mangiat@...>
Date:Monday, February 23, 2004, 9:05
Christophe wrote:

> If this seems unclear to you, that's because you're reasoning with the=20 > concepts of "subject" and "object", which fit only accusative languages=20 > (and then, only those that neatly use the nominative for subjects and
> accusative for objects). If you try to apply them to ergative languages,
> =20 > becomes automatically a mess (unless you treat the term in the
> as "subject", which is a valid way to think about it, but then you have
> =20 > remember that the subject of transitive sentences is the *patient*
> than the agent). So what you need to try is to stop thinking in these=20 > terms, and only think in terms of syntactic cases.
So, is it possible to have a coherent definition of subject and object which fits both accusative and ergative languages? One of my university text books (an introduction to linguistics) said it is the argument the verb agrees with- a definition which works fairly well with Italian, but... what about Swedish, for instance, where the verb does not inflect for person and number? And what about many Northern Italian dialects, where verbs agree in number with a 3rd person subject only when they follow it (when the verb precede the subject it takes 3 sg agreement, even when the subject is plural)? Luca


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Adam Walker <carrajena@...>Bantoid conlang - phonology