Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1876-1933
  • E-ISSN: 1876-1941
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A long-standing divide between Icelandic and German in the literature takes for granted that there are non-nominative subjects in Icelandic, while corresponding arguments in German have been analyzed as objects (Zaenen et al. 1985Sigurðsson 1989). This is based on two differences between these languages: (a) differences with regard to control and conjunction reduction and (b) apparent subject behavior of the nominative in - constructions in German. This article focuses on the latter, introducing into the discussion the concept of alternating predicates, that is, - predicates that systematically alternate between two diametrically-opposed argument structure constructions, - and -. A comparison between Icelandic and German shows that Icelandic - predicates are of two types, a non-alternating type and an alternating type, whereas German seems to exhibit only the alternating type. On this assumption, the apparent subject behavior of the nominative in German is easily explained, since such occurrences in fact involve the - construction and not the - construction. Therefore, the subject behavior of the nominative in - constructions does not invalidate a subject analysis of the dative in - constructions in German. The analysis is couched in the framework of construction grammar.


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