Title: Subjects and Universal Grammar
Subtitle: An Explanatory Theory
Series Title: Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 113
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Author: Yehuda N. Falk, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hardback: ISBN: 0521858542 Pages: 258 Price: U.S. $ 90.00
Hardback: ISBN: 0521858542 Pages: 258 Price: U.K. £ 50.00
The 'subject' of a sentence is a concept that presents great challenges to linguists. Most languages have something which looks like a subject, but subjects differ across languages in their nature and properties, making them an interesting phenomenon for those seeking linguistic universals. This pioneering volume takes a new approach to subjects, addressing their nature from a simultaneously formal and typological perspective. Dividing the subject into two distinct grammatical functions, it shows how the nature of these functions explains their respective properties, and argues that the split in properties shown in 'ergative' languages (whereby the subject of intransitive verbs is marked as an object) results from the functions being assigned to different elements of the clause. Drawing on data from a typologically wide variety of languages, including English, Hebrew, Tagalog, Inuit and Acehnese, it explains why, even in the case of very different languages, certain core properties can be found.
1. On subjects and explanation; 2. Most prominent argument; 3. Pivot; 4. Long distance dependencies; 5. Control constructions; 6. Universality; 7. Competing theories.