German MIT first summary

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Thu Dec 17 11:51:36 UTC 2009

Dear Friends,
many thanks for all these extremely helpful and illuminating data and 
comments ....
Let me quickly summarize what we have so far:

1. Semantically speaking, the construction at issue is present in:

German:   Preposition /mit/
French:     Preposition /avec/ (Denis Creissels)
Dutch:      Preposition /met /(?, no example) (Pieter Muysken)
Russian:    Preposotion /v /'in' (Anna Filippova, Ilja Serzants) ~ /v 
ego lice/ (Marina Tchoumakina)
Italian:      Preposition /con ~ in /(Paolo Ramat, Raffaele Simone)

Personally, I'm left with the impression that the two concepts addressed 
(WITH and IN) are based on somehow different patterns: "IN someone we 
see (a) friend" (the Russian model/ в нем мы потеряли друга/) reads as 
if 'friend' is some kind of trajector related to the landmark 'he' (~ 
'his/her face/person etc..', to take up the second variant). The 
WITH-construction, however, seems to have a stronger notion of meronymy 
or 'equipment', as I hypothesized earlier. Maybe that all this also 
depends from the semantics of the verb, compare again German:
In ihm sehe ich einen guten Freund/. [lit.: in him see I a good friend]
/Mit ihm schlage ich einen Freund/ [lit.: with him hit I a good friend"

/*In ihm schlage ich einen Freund/ [lit.: In him hit I a good friend]
/*?mit ihm sehe ich einen Freund/ [lit.: with him see I a good friend] 

Maybe that all this has to do with areal [SAE?] patterns. But data are 
still too scant to think in more details about this....

This brings me back to the two postings that concern German. Thomas 
Hanke wrote:
> 1. For me, at least a direct postverbal position is ok, too.
> Wir haben mit Eva eine wahre Freundin verloren.
> Uns verließ mit Paul ein guter Freund.
Yes, that's right! Obviously, the main point is that the /mit/-NP has to 
precede the 'target NP'. This is what Thomas argues for:
> This may still be an issue of topic, of course. I agree that "mit"
> following the regular NP doesn't work – some kind of binding perhaps
> at work? That fits with your idea about meronymy, too.
> I'll be glad to get other native speakers' feedback, especially on the
> second sentence, where "mit Paul" displaces the subject from its
> regular position next to the inflected verb.
As for the possible ergative constraint I referred to:
> 2. I'm not sure about the ergative constraint you proposed, either,
> looking at the 'Paul left us' example with an accusative object.
> Mit Paul hat uns ein guter Freund verlassen.
True, I did not think about a sentence like this!
> "Verlassen" may not be "very ergative", but the following examples
> sound fine, too.
> Mit Hans hat mich ein Weltmeister geschlagen.
> 'With Hans, a world champion beat/hit me.' (awkward English of course)
> Uns hat mit Robert ein Spitzenkoch eingeladen.
> 'With Robert, a top cook invited us.' (awkward English of course)
Maybe that presence of pronominality is another point. At least in my 
German, these constructions sound odd in case only nominals are present, 
Mit Robert hat der Mann einen Spitzenkoch eingeladen /(OK, if Robert = 
Spitzenkoch = O, not OK if Robert = der Mann = A ?).
Mit Robert hat er einen Spitzenkoch eingeladen (OK, if Robert = 
Spitzenkoch = O)
Mit Robert hat uns ein Spitzenkoch eingeladen (the example above; OK, if 
Robert = Spitzenkoch = A)

AS for 8in)Definiteness:
> Could this rather be an issue of (in)definiteness?
> Your ungrammatical transitive example has definite "der Mann" as the A subject.
Well, I have several examples that show definiteness also with S and O, 
as in:
Mit Peter Paul Michalski geht der Polizei in Nordrhein-Westfalen jetzt 
auch der zweite Schwerverbrecher ins Netz.
/[with P.P.M. went to the police in W now also THE second criminal into 
the net [literal]]

/Mit Wolfsburg schlug Bayern den Deutsche Meister.
/[with Wolfsburg [soccer club] hit Bayern [soccer club] THE German 
champion] (lit.)

Johannes Reese adds:
> I could say, too, only for the first sentence:
> Wir haben in Eva eine wahre Freundin verloren.
> I believe that the basis for these constructions is not one of topic, but one 
> of additional participants.
But doesn't the obligatory (?) sequencing /mit/-NP + [target]NP argue 
for a topical construction?
>  Maybe it has got to do with that specialty of 
> some languages to be able to add a sheer unlimited number of additional 
> participants that Rapaport Hovav and Levin found in their 1998 paper. That 
> would explain: 1) that some languages can't imitate it; 2) that it works 
> somehow different with other languages -- and the fact that with 
> different "constructions" in the CG sense different prepositions have to be 
> used.
I guess you refer to Rappaport Hovav, M. and B. Levin (1998) ``Building 
Verb Meanings'', in M. Butt and W. Geuder, eds., The Projection of 
Arguments: Lexical and Compositional Factors, CSLI Publications, 
Stanford, CA, 97-134. I haven't read this paper yet, but I will check it 
as soon as possible! Thanks for that! AS for the use of different 
prepositons (or otehr constructional tyüpes): See me comments on WITH 
and IN above...

Very best wishes,
and thanks again to you all!


*Prof. Dr. Wolfgang 
Schulze    *                                                               


/Primary contact: 

Institut für Allgemeine & Typologische Sprachwissenschaft     

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Tel.: 0049-(0)89-2180-2486 


Fax:  0049-(0)89-2180-16567 // 

Email: W.Schulze at 
<mailto:W.Schulze at> /// Wolfgang.Schulze at 
<mailto:Wolfgang.Schulze at>                                      




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<mailto:Schulze at>                                                                             




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