LINGUIST List 9.767

Thu May 21 1998

Sum: "Promise" in Langs Other Than English

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. manaster, "Promise" in Langs Other Than English

Message 1: "Promise" in Langs Other Than English

Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 18:40:30 -0400 (EDT)
From: manaster <>
Subject: "Promise" in Langs Other Than English

I received nine or ten responses to my query as to whether in lgs
other than English there are also speakers who find equivalents of
'promise' unacceptable with subject-control and an infinitival
complement, but I fear I must confess I just managed to destroy by
trying to use PINE to globally export them to a single file. So I
cannot thank everybody by name, but I am very grateful. I did read the
messages though before losing them, and since I got approximately one
per language (some of the languages included Danish, Norwegian, Dutch,
Finnish, Czech, French), there was not much scope for variation across
speakers but within one and the same language. And all the
respondents found the construction completely normal; some wondered
how any English speakers could fail to do so.

As of now, then, I am the only non-English speaker who I know of who
has any doubts about the naturalness of such examples in his native
language (viz., Polish) and I must wonder whether this is interference
from English, which I have spoken since age 12.

I also wanted to thank three English speakers who wrote but did not
make it clear whether their comments were to be summarized. One finds
subject-control with promise normal, one marginal, and one totally
impossible (but apparently learned to accept them after learning of
them in a linguistic context!).

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