The alternating predicate puzzle
dat-nom vs. nom-dat in Icelandic and German
A long-standing divide between Icelandic and German in the literature takes for granted that there are non-nominative subjects in Icelandic, while corresponding arguments in German have been analyzed as objects (Zaenen et al. 1985; Sigurðsson 1989). This is based on two differences between these languages: (a) differences with regard to control and conjunction reduction and (b) apparent subject behavior of the nominative in dat-nom constructions in German. This article focuses on the latter, introducing into the discussion the concept of alternating predicates, that is, dat-nom predicates that systematically alternate between two diametrically-opposed argument structure constructions, dat-nom and nom-dat. A comparison between Icelandic and German shows that Icelandic dat-nom predicates are of two types, a non-alternating líka type and an alternating falla í geð type, whereas German seems to exhibit only the alternating type. On this assumption, the apparent subject behavior of the nominative in German is easily explained, since such occurrences in fact involve the nom-dat construction and not the dat-nom construction. Therefore, the subject behavior of the nominative in nom-dat constructions does not invalidate a subject analysis of the dative in dat-nom constructions in German. The analysis is couched in the framework of construction grammar.
- 2.The state of the art
- 3.Non-canonically case-marked subjects in Icelandic
- 3.2 dat-nom/nom-dat predicates in Icelandic
- 4.Non-canonically case-marked subjects in German
- 4.1 dat-nom/nom-dat predicates in German
- 5.A constructional account
- 5.1Earlier theoretical accounts
- 5.2The present account
Cited by 2 other publications
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