Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Mir ist kalt -- How to analyze this sentence?

From:Jeff Rollin <jeff.rollin@...>
Date:Monday, June 18, 2007, 18:26
In the last episode, (On Monday 02 Tamuz 5767 18:24:02), Carsten Becker wrote:
> Hi, > > The topic already says it all. How do I analyze the sentence > "Mir ist kalt"? That's German for "I feel cold", and breaks > down into 1sg.DAT is cold. But what is the subject in this > sentence? "Kalt", despite it's an adjective? >
Most languages seem to have sentences in which there is "no subject", such as the English "it's raining" - what is the "it" referring to in this sentence? If it's "the sky", or "the clouds", how come "the sky is raining" and "the clouds are raining" are odd sentences? If it's "God", how come we don't say "He is raining" or "It maketh me to lie down in green pastures" (and what about atheists?)? In English, of course, we stick an "it" in because every sentence must have a noun or a pronoun as subject. Other languages (such as Spanish), don't bother: "Habla" means "he/she is speaking" and "llueve" means "It's raining". (Pronouns exist, but are used for emphasis only: "Habla - he/she is speaking"; "Él habla - /He/ is speaking." German seems to be in between the two in using pronouns where there is a "real" subject "_Ich_ bin/_du_ bist/_er_ ist_ Deutscher" (I am/you are/he is German") but none where there is no real subject - Thus "Mir ist kalt" vs. *"Es ist mir kalt". (The change in word order being due to the emphasis on "mir"). HTH Jeff -- "Please understand that there are small European principalities devoted to debating Tcl vs. Perl as a tourist attraction." -- Cameron Laird


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>Mir ist kalt; or, Polysemy revisited