German MIT - second summary

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Fri Dec 18 13:06:13 UTC 2009

Dear friends,
let me briefly summarize the second set of answers to and comments on my 
original post concerning the German /mit/-construction (sorry if I have 
forgotten to mention someone! [I do not include mails that had been sent 
to me in privacy]):

To the set of language data given in my first summary, we can now add 
(an updated version of the earlier list):

*German: *  *Preposition/ mit (~ in)
                  /My earlier comments: *The two concepts addressed 
(WITH and IN) are based on somehow different patterns: "IN someone we 
see (a) friend" (the Russian model ? ??? ?? ???????? ?????) 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:/
//                  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]  compare again German:

                   *Let me add: *Also note that in 'my German', 
positional variation seems to affect the WITH construction only, not the 
                   /Ich sehe eine Freund in ihm /[I see a firend in him]
                  / Ich schlage einen Freund mit ihm/ [I hit a firend 
with him] (only possible if WITH is truly instrumental and /ihm/ 
cross-referencing a non-animate (or non-human) referent.
/**French: *    *Preposition /avec/* (Denis Creissels)
*Dutch:  *    *Preposition /met/* (?, no example) (Pieter Muysken)
                Martine Bruikl adds:
                "* Focus: /In hem zie ik een goede vriend / Neutral: Ik 
zie in hem een goede vriend/. (Funny without goede).
                *?/Met hem sla ik een goede vriend./
                */We hebben met hem een goede vriend verloren./ (Also 
good without goede)
                *?/We hebben in Eva een goede vriendin verloren/. (Funny 
with in)
                */Met hem verliet ons een goede vriend/. (In my 
opininion also correct without goede).
                */Met AZ heeft Ajax de landskampioen verslagen/.
                */Met Milosovic heeft Interpol een belangrijke crimineel 
                Dik Bakker adds:
                "Dutch also uses 'in' next to 'with', possibly related 
to the semantics of the main verb:
                /met haar hebben we een groot leider verloren
                /with her have      we  a     great  leader lost
                /in haar hebben/bezitten we  een groot leider
                /in her   have/possess      we  a     great leader
*Russian:*    *Preposition*/* v */'in' (Anna Filippova, Ilja Serzants) 
~*/ v ego lice/* (Marina Tchoumakina)
*Italian:      Preposition* */con ~ in/* (Paolo Ramat, Raffaele Simone)
                Syliva Luraghi adds: "There seems to be a different 
distribution of 'in' and 'con' in Italian: for example one can say 
"d'Alfredo il padre in me vedete" (from the libretto of La Traviata, 
"You are looking at Alfredo's father" lit.: "in me you see Alfredo's 
father"), but you                 couldn't say the same using 'con'."
*Hebrew:   Preposition /b-/* (covering IN and WITH(explicative)) (David Gil)
                Moshe Taube adds:
               "Job. 12:2 ??????? ???? ??????-??? ??*???????? *??????? 
               LXX: ???? ????? ???? ???????? ? *???' ???*? ?????????? ?????
               Vulgate: ergo vos estis soli homines et /vobiscum 
/morietur sapientia
               Luther: Ja, ihr seid die Leute, mit euch wird die 
Weisheit sterben!
               King James: No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom 
shall die with you."
               But David Gil is probably right when saying:
/              /"/I think this is not the same construction.  In the 
Biblical example,
              "wisdom" is not *explicative* or *identificational* with 
respect to
              "you" the way it is in the originally defined 
construction.  Rather,
              the preposition "with", or Hebrew ?im, is used in a more 
or less
              literal comitative sense."
/              *My comment:;* I guess this holds for the corresponding 
translations, too.
*Latin:    *  /*qualis*/ N:NOM (qualis artifex pereo) (Paul Hopper)
               *My comment:* Isn't this rather a mirative construction?
*Icelandic: Preposition/ með /*(Jóhanna Barddal)
              Jóhanna gives the following examples and comments:
                 Með Páli höfum við svo sannarlega misst góðan vin.
/                  with paul have we so truly lost good friend

                In fact, all the examples suggested so far this morning 
are ok in Icelandic, even the last two:

/                Við höfum með Evu misst sanna vinkonu.
/                we have with Eva lost true friend.
/                Okkur yfirgaf með Páli mjög góður vinur.
/                us left with Paul very good friend

                This last sentence would be better without the 
topicalization, as topicalizations are restricted in Icelandic.
                I would certainly also use the label 'explicative' for 
examples of the following kind:

/                Með þessu yfirgaf hann veisluna.
/                with this left he party-the

                where 'with this' can refer to whatever event referred 
to in the preceding discourse. The same goes for the following example:

/                Með þessu sendum við hana heim.
/                with this sent we her home

                So Icelandic does not require an animate 'explicative' 
NP, nor that the subject is not A.
*English:    Preposition/ in/* (/In him, we lost a great leader/) (Elena 

Finally, David Gil points out:
> My gut feeling (though this is something that should and probably 
> could be tested) is that this is a relatively recent calquing on some 
> European language.
Yes, I think so, too. But when and where? Any idea? And what was the 
original model (which language)?
> A more general gut feeling that I also have is that this construction 
> is limited, in the languages that have it, to a rather formal 
> register, and that various stylistic conventions and specific 
> constructions associated with such registers may spread across 
> languages faster and further than other conventions and constructions 
> that are limited to more colloquial registers.
I'm not sure about that, especially if you look at e.g. recent German 
borrowings from English. But David is surely right concerning the  
register associated with the WITH(explicative)-construction. At least in 
German, it is rather formal, but present in e.g. newspapers (comapre my 
quote /Mit Peter Paul Michalski geht der Polizei in Nordrhein-Westfalen 
jetzt auch der zweite Schwerverbrecher ins Netz /which is taken from a 
newspaper. I even heard it being used in TV shows, such as:

/Mit Herrn XY hatten wir den ersten Millionär der Sendung
/with Mr. XY had we the first millionaire of=the  show

Well, that's all for the moment. Hoping that this brief update is of 
some help,
very best wishes,


*Prof. Dr. Wolfgang 


/Primary contact: 

Institut für Allgemeine & Typologische Sprachwissenschaft     

Dept. II / F 13                  

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München                                 

Ludwigstraße 25                                         

Postanschrift / Postal address: Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1

D-80539 München                                  

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>                                      




Katedra Germanistiký        

Fakulta humanitných 

Univerzita Mateja Béla / Banská 


SK-97401 Banská 


Fax: (00421)-(0)48-4465512   

Email: Schulze at 
<mailto:Schulze at>                                                                             



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