LINGUIST List 6.1337

Mon Oct 2 1995

Qs: Case, Address, Head & Chest register

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Kersti Bo"rjars, Q: Germanic case
  2. Hoffmann Regine, request
  3. Patrick Sturt, Head Register and Chest Register

Message 1: Q: Germanic case

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 12:40:33 Q: Germanic case
From: Kersti Bo"rjars <>
Subject: Q: Germanic case

Case in Germanic

In his 1991 paper 'Another look at Icelandic case marking and grammatical
relations' (NLLT 9: 145-194), Van Valin proposes the following case marking
rules for direct core NP arguments in Icelandic:

1 a) Highest ranking macrorole takes NOMINATIVE case.
 b) The other macrorole argument takes ACCUSATIVE case.
 c) Non-macrorole arguments take DATIVE as their default case.

(In a paper of mine to appear in AJL, I propose extending these case
marking rules to German and Old English).

A clause may have 0, 1 or 2 macroroles. If it has 2, they must be Actor and
Undergoer; if it has 1, then the macrorole is Actor iff the verb has an
activity predicate in its logical structure, otherwise the macrorole is
Undergoer. In accusative-type languages, Actor ranks higher than Undergoer.

VV, following Dowty and Vendler, categorizes verbs into 4 Aktionsart
classes: the two I am concerned with are Activities and Accomplishments. VV
proposes a number of tests for distinguishing Aktionsart classes, but the
only one that distinguishes Activities from Accomplishments is that the
latter, but not the former, occurs with "in an hour" or "took an hour
to....". This distinction follows because Activities are atelic (unbounded)
while Accomplishments are telic (bounded).

VV points out that 'It is very common for an activity verb to be used in a
clause in which it receives an accomplishment interpretation' (159):

Examples (adapted from VV 165-6)

 John ate the sandwich (in five minutes)

 John ate pizza (*in five minutes)

VV specifically claims that pizza is not an Undergoer in 3, '...because
activity verbs never take Undergoer macroroles' (166 n.17).

However, if the case marking rules in 1 above are correct for Icelandic (or
for other Germanic languages with morphological case), one would expect
pizza in 3 not to be accusative (in fact one would expect it to be dative).

I would be grateful if anyone could tell me ( preferably with examples)
what would be the case of the underlined NPs that follow in Icelandic,
German, or any other Germanic language with morphological case:

4 John read old newspapers (*in an hour)

 John drank warm beer (*in an hour)

 John ate raw fish (*in an hour)

I have put the adjectives in because e.g. German will not show a case
distinction on the noun (I'm not sure about Icelandic).

There are a few activity verbs I can think of in English which do not have
an accomplishment reading even if the object is definite / specific: these
include STUDY and WATCH:

5 John studied the book (*in an hour)

 The cat watched the mouse (*in an hour)

(I believe the mouse would indeed be dative in German, but I do not know
about Icelandic and other languages: on the other hand, I think that the
book would be accusative in German - though I'm not sure, and again I don't
know about Ice etc).

Any information, examples etc. will be very gratefully received! Please
send replies to Kersti Borjars' e-mail address as it appears at the top of
this message.

Linda Roberts
Department of Linguistics
University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PL
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Message 2: request

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 12:36:20 request
From: Hoffmann Regine <>
Subject: request

 Could anyone help me in locating Eter SOSELIA who is scheduled as a
speaker at a Symposium on Semantics in Tbilisi in October 1995?
 Thank you for your help.
 R. S. Hofmmann Tel-Aviv U. , Dept. of French
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Message 3: Head Register and Chest Register

Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 12:20:55 Head Register and Chest Register
From: Patrick Sturt <>
Subject: Head Register and Chest Register

I recently read a newspaper article which mentioned Mon, a South East
Asian language which uses `head' and `chest' register to distinguish
meaning. Who can tell me what this means ?

Patrick Sturt |
- ---------------------------------------------------
Centre for Cognitive Science |
University of Edinburgh |
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