flip-flop predicates

David Tuggy david_tuggy at SIL.ORG
Wed Apr 26 19:49:04 UTC 2000

     A number of examples people are sending in are interesting, and no
     doubt relevant, cases of something approaching a flip-flop, where
     something changes, say, from object to subject, but where the
     concomitant change of the erstwhile subject to object doesn't take

     I think this is such an example. I don't speak the dialect involved
     here with any confidence :-), but I don't think you can say

     A PP complement subcategorizes for this verb

     with the meaning that used to be/might still be phrased as

     This verb subcategorizes for a PP complement

     nor can you say

     A PP complement is subcategorized for this verb

     and mean

     This verb is subcategorized for a PP complement

     The other kinds of progression from one argument slot to another are
     indeed interesting, and probably relevant, but they are (1) more
     common and in that sense less noteworthy, and more importantly (2)
     they don't as blatantly violate the functional pressure to keep clear
     who's doing what to whom. Those two factors are what make the full
     flip-flops so striking.

     Generally linguistic changes are shiftings of place like at the Mad
     Hatter's tea party, where everybody moves down one space and only one
     gets a clean plate (i.e. where BC(DEF...) becomes AB(CDE...)).
     Reciprocal place-swapping (flip-flopping) is less normal. And of
     course things sometimes get jammed up at one end: AB(CDE...) becomes
     AA'(BCD...), and sometimes the thing at the end of the line gets
     thrown out (A becomes A-chomeur, so to speak).  E.g. vowel shifts
     usually work like that, so it is striking to find a place in Utah
     (reported to me by Jeff Burnham, some of whose relatives speak the
     dialect) where "ar" and "or" have changed places, so that you would
     pork the cor in the born, but also you might eat park-link sausages,
     or have been barn during a parring rainstarm. That case is not just a
     shift, but what we've been calling a flip-flop.


______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: flip-flop predicates
Author:  <bender at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> at Internet
Date:    4/26/2000 11:16 AM

Another example of a flip-flop predicate: 'subcategorize', as in:

This verb is subcategorized for a PP complement.
This verb subcategorizes for a PP complement.

-- Emily

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