Primary object languages & pronouns

Kieran Snyder kmsnyder at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 1 18:57:40 UTC 2003

hi noel,

thanks for the interesting data. in (4) below, i can't help but notice the
unusual ACC marking on `chief' (where i would expect DAT) and the
complete lack of marking on `slave' (where i would expect ACC), suggesting
that it is more than a straightforward shift of (3) as such.

> Interestingly, however, it turns out that if the patient is human then we
> have the option of a "Dative Shift", e.g. nonshifted (3) and shifted (4).
> (3)    'e-'ní-ye haswaláya-na miyóo?ato-px
>         SAP/3-give-PST slave-ACC chief-DAT
>         'I gave the/a slave to the chief'
> (4)    'e-'ní-ye haswaláya miyóo?ato-na
>         SAP/3-give-PST slave chief-ACC
>         'I gave the chief the/a slave'

i've been looking at the pragmatics of these constructions in a variety of
languages, and i'm wondering whether you have examples of constructions
like (3) and (4) on larger discourse contexts. if so i'd love to have a

> As for
> terminological confusion, it would seem that as functionalists we would
> explain cross-linguistic phenomena (e.g. Dative Shift) via universals of
> semantic case and pragmatic function.  I think syntax is more difficult for
> folks who demand a 100% mechanistic theory and are reluctant to realize that
> language is where mechanism and freedom converge.

of course, languages that do not exhibit dative shift have other ways of
expressing the pragmatic functions typically associated with it. :)

(i.e. there doesn't have to be a universal 1:1 correspondence between
a particular function and an associated syntactic form, which makes it
harder to explain the availability of a particular form in terms of
its function.)


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