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THEORY: Non-nom Subj & Nom Obj -- Quirky OVS Word Order Or Quirky Case?

From:tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 2, 2005, 18:39
Hello everyone, especially Tom Wier, Henrik Thieling, and Markus

Surely I can't have been the first person to ask this question;

I looked at many examples of Non-Nominative Subject With Nominative
Object, many of which are in Halldor Sigurdsson's paper on "Case:
Morphological vs. Abstract".  In many of them the verb agrees in
person and number with the Nominative "Object", not with the non-
Nominative "Subject".  Many of these examples are in Icelandic or
German.  Many of them involve a verb glossed as, and in the Icelandic
actually cognate to, the English verb "to like".

Here's the thing; Why aren't these sentences in an admittedly unusual
OVS word order, rather than having quirky cases?

The Anglo-Saxon verb "lician" used to mean "to please".  If I could
say in A-S "Cadillacs(NOM) my boss(DAT) lican" that would be SVO word
order A-S for the modern English, "Cadillacs please my boss".  If I
could say "My boss(DAT) lican Cadillacs(NOM)" in A-S, that would
still have the same meaning; it would be in a funny, OVS word order,
but that would be just fine, because the case-marking would keep
everything straight.

So why aren't Icelandic sentences like the ones in Sigurdsson's paper
(which I can't copy because I can't type eths and thorns etc.) just
as plausibly analyzed as OVS instead of Quirky Case?

Tom Wier wrote a message about "formal tests for what is the
subject"; Henrik Thieling knows about Icelandic quirky cases; and
Markus Miekk-Oja seems to know about quirky cases in general; so my
question is directed to the three of them first, but, of course, for
all I know there is a different real expert who has just been on
vacation since April and will answer this exhaustively and
conclusively, so, everyone's welcome to chime in; almost anybody
knows as much as I do, almost no-one knows less.

I'm an amateur, a conlanger-wannabe, I've been lurking here since
1997 and actively contributing since 2004, and I've had half a
semester of a real Linguistics course (as opposed to courses in
various languages).  I am positive I am not the first person to think
of this.

Was this ever asked in print by a professional?  Who was the first,
if so?  Did he or she start out against or for the OVS idea?  How did
he or she end up feeling about it?  Why and when did it become
generally accepted that these sentences are not OVS, but are instead
Quirky Subject with Quirky Object sentences?

Thank you,

Tom H.C. in MI