The role of non-canonical subjects in the overall grammar of a language

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We offer a model of Russian core syntax in terms of a radial category networkof constructions. The prototype corresponds to Langacker’s “canonical eventmodel”, namely a prototypical transitive event, and more peripheral constructionsare related to it via metaphor and metonymy. From this perspective wefocus on non-canonical subjects marked in the dative case, highlighting thecomplex interaction of lexical items (verbs) with constructions, and buildingon our previous work on case and infinitives. We hypothesize that a speaker’sperception of cause may be influenced by the use of non-canonical subjects(in Russian) rather than canonical subjects (in English) and present the resultsof an experiment. We are unable to prove any conclusive effect, but show theimportance and need for further testing.


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