LINGUIST List 4.67

Wed 03 Feb 1993

Disc: Subjects and Objects

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  1. , (GMT)
  2. Larry Horn, Re: 4.57 Subjects and Objects

Message 1: (GMT)

Date: 01 Feb 1993 21:11:01 +0000 (GMT)
From: <>
Subject: (GMT)

I have done some research on the subject-object in Dutch idioms. It is
reported in:

M. Everaert (to appear) Verbal Idioms, Subject Idioms and Theta-theory, in:
Papers From the Third Annual Formal Linguistics Society of Midamerica
Conference, Northwestern University, ed. by Stvan, L.S. et al. Bloomington,
IN: Indiana University Linguistics Club Publications.

As Dick Hudson says, there is asymmetry between the number of subject idioms
and object idioms found, at least in Dutch. One might even call it `enormous'
although I haven't done any statistical work. (The problem with statiscal
work is that (i) one must first give some working definition of `idiom'
before one can start counting, (ii) idiom dictionaries are not always
very reliable)
On the whole I would say that subject idioms occur much more frequently than
is often suggested in the literature.

Apart from references in the literature I know there has been work done on
Hungarian (in the 'does Hungarian has a VP'-debate)

Martin Everaert
Research Institute for Language and Speech
Trans 10, 3512 JK Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Message 2: Re: 4.57 Subjects and Objects

Date: Wed, 03 Feb 93 11:16:16 ESRe: 4.57 Subjects and Objects
From: Larry Horn <LHORNYaleVM.YCC.Yale.Edu>
Subject: Re: 4.57 Subjects and Objects

For what it's worth, Kevin Donnelly's example of subject-object ambiguity in
Gaelic relative clauses transfers precisely to Swahili, where 'the man who saw
my son' and 'the man who my son saw' again come out exactly the same, but
only because both head nouns determine the same agreement marker (Class I,
animate singular). If the subject and object are of different classes,
which can be achieved here by pluralizing either--but not both--or by
replacing one by a noun from a different gender class, the ambiguity
 --Larry Horn
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