subject-object flip-flop

Dick Hudson dick at LINGUISTICS.UCL.AC.UK
Tue Apr 25 07:52:05 UTC 2000

Dear David,
An interesting message. Of course RENT is 'correctly' used for both
directions: I can rent a bike either to or from you. I don't think there's
anything very surprising about these flip-flop cases - the verb refers to
the whole situation, the choice of subject is at least partly arbitrary,
and the verbs concerned are all pretty rare so learners don't have that
much chance to check against their models. What's interesting about such
cases, from the point of view of general theory, is that they demonstrate
rather clearly that our choice of subject and object is NOT so constrained
by universal principles that our choice of subject candidate is guaranteed
to reduce to one.

At 08:46 24/04/2000 -0400, you wrote:
>     Oy!
>     I apparently hit the wrong button and got a half-baked message into my
>     outbox instead of the drafts box. I apologize to you all, and
>     particularly to the organizers of the "Conference: Syntax & Semantics
>     in Dubrovnik", whose subject line wound up on my message even though
>     the message had nothing to do with the conference.
>     But, I am interested in the question (about structures that flip-flop
>     their subject and object) and would be interested in you all's ideas
>     about what functional pressures shape such anomalies.
>     --David Tuggy

Richard (= Dick) Hudson

Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London,
Gower Street, London WC1E  6BT.
+44(0)20 7679 3152; fax +44(0)20 7383 4108;

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