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Re: Subject+verb Idioms, was: deeply embedded VSO nightmare

From:Lars Henrik Mathiesen <thorinn@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 23, 2001, 21:38
> Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 16:30:34 -0400 > From: Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...> > > On Mon, 22 Oct 2001 15:11:50 PDT, Matthew Pearson > <Matthew.Pearson@...> wrote: > >However, there are no idioms in English--at least, none that I can think > >of--which consist of a verb and its subject, the object having a literal > >interpretation and varying from context to context. For example, we could > >imagine a hypothetical idiom of the form "The toaster burned X" meaning "X > >went bankrupt": > > > > The toaster burned Pat (= Pat went bankrupt) > > The toaster burned my brother (= My brother went bankrupt) > > > >But no such idioms exist in English. In fact, it's been claimed that no > >language anywhere has such idioms. If we assume that idioms are stored in > >our mental dictionaries as phrases (constituents), then we could take this > >observation (if true) as evidence that languages treat a verb and its > >object as a phrase, to the exclusion of the subject of that phrase (at > >least underlyingly). > > I must think a bit if word order rules interfere with this. At a glance, > it seems important that in my Russian examples, the objects can be easily > fronted, forming the topic, while the rest of the sentence seems to be > undivided focus (indivisible, since idiomatic).
Danish has a few idioms where the topic of discussion is the object position (not fronted), or even governed by a preposition. Like, Men s