English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subjects

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 26 18:48:27 UTC 2005

At 1:39 PM -0400 4/26/05, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>I don't remember if McC considered the possibllilty that "Fuck you!" (and
>"Shit on you!" "Piss on you!") are subjunctives, but it seems to me worth
>thinking about. They translate into the nonidiomatic "May you become
>fucked," "Let it
>be that you are shit [up]on," "It is hoped that you might be pissed" on, and
>the like. The problem in McC's envisioning of the question lies in the word
>"subject." What is missing is the understood anonymous AGENT. Thus "Fuck you!"
>etc. are in the same class as "Drop dead!"

For Quang, now that I think of it, the crucial parallel is with other
XP constructions where no verb (much less subject) is involved:

Down with Nixon!
(God)damn all of those imperialist butchers!
Away with the running dog colonialists!

(Remember, Quang was affiliated with South Hanoi, and the war was on.
As an atheist, he was also free to observe the ungrammaticality of
"Goddamn Himself", which he took to argue that "God" is not the
implicit subject of "Damn"-type drecatives [pace Barbara Partee,


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