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

From:Paul Roser <pkroser@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 20, 2007, 15:29
On Wed, 20 Jun 2007 10:39:54 +0200, Andreas Johansson <andjo@...> wrote:

>Quoting Carsten Becker <carbeck@...>: > >> 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? > >Some grammars will tell you that _mir_ is a "dative subject" here. I don't like >this analysis, among other reasons because there is no obvious reason verbal >agreement should change just because a subject is put in an odd case form - >one'd expect **_Mir bin kalt_.
The so-called dative-subject is actually fairly widespread, occuring in not only German, Icelandic and Russian, but also Marathi, Hindi/Urdu and IIRC some Northeast Caucasian languages as well, one of it's most common uses being to mark a non-volitional experiencer. One of the articles I found proposed the theory that it was a feature of Indo-European (or perhaps Proto-IE) that finite (ie realis) verbs had a nominative subject and non-finite (irrealis) verbs had a dative subject. However, since I don't know that much about (P)IE, I can't comment on whether that's feasible or not. -Pfal


Jeff Rollin <jeff.rollin@...>