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420Re: Subject vs. object vs. agent (was Re: ÓNI, ONYE)

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  • David Kiltz
    May 14, 2003
      On Mittwoch, April 16, 2003, at 10:20 Uhr, Carl Hostetter wrote:

      > Moreover, it seems to me that asserting that _aselye_ 'with thee' is
      > the subject is equivalent to saying that, in the sentence: "The grass is
      > green", "green" is the subject (and, therefore, a noun).

      I don't understand the connection you make between "green" and "with
      thee". The first is an adjective, "with thee" is not. Indeed "with
      thee" has no characteristics of an adjective but "thee" clearly is a
      noun, just as in a phrase "with the dog" "dog" is a noun. I'd be
      curious to know what you mean.

      [My point is that the (predicate) prepositional phrase "with thee" is no
      more the "subject" of the sentence than is the (predicate) adjective
      "green". Yet you have called "with thee" the subject of the sentence.
      Further, to what follows, while it is true that the copula has no
      grammatical object in these sentences -- so far as I know that was
      never in question, and certainly I never claimed that "with thee" is
      the object of the copula -- nonetheless the preposition "with" does
      have an object, namely "thee". CFH]

      A functional object, as I understand it, is the second participant of a
      verbal sentence. Cf. "I (subj.) see you (obj.)". In a nominal sentence
      there is no object (functionally or logically). "The lord is with thee"
      is functionally the same as "Thou art with the Lord" or "The Lord and
      thou art together" (with semantic nuances, but that's irrelevant at
      this point). The fact that in most I.-E. languages nouns, taking
      prepositions, take the same *form* as objects of a verbal sentence do
      does not, in any way, make them functionally the same. While I agree
      that _elye_ may well be an oblique case (although the form isn't
      clear), there is no question that it isn't an object. "To be" has a
      valence of 1, it can never take an object. "With thee" is part of the
      nominal phrase, it is an adnominal addition, not one to the verb. In
      German the sentence reads "der Herr ist mit Dir". _Dir_ is the form of
      the indirect object (dative) of _Du_ ("You"). Just as _Thee_. To call
      _mit Dir_ an indirect object would, with all respect, in my eyes, be
      absurd. Imagine a sentence: "Ich warte dich ihm" vs "Ich warte mit dir
      auf ihn". In the latter sentence ("I wait for him with you") _auf ihn_
      is indeed a prepositional object, however, _mit dir_ is *not* a
      prepositional indirect object.

      Maybe, it boils all down to a question of terminology. Just as in a
      sentence "the window was hit by a bullet" "bullet" is the logical
      subject, so is "with the" in the sentence in question. Again, the
      *formal* identity of e.g. in German the indirect object (dative) with a
      (pro)noun after the preposition "mit" has nothing to do with their
      respective functions in these two, very different, cases.

      [Yes, indeed, it has everything to do with terminology, as I thought
      we'd already established. When you used "subject" as a shorthand for
      the "logical subject" of the sentence, others (quite naturally, I think)
      took it to mean the _grammatical_ subject of the sentence. This was
      not really a matter of form, but of grammatical vs. (your view of)
      logical function. But I still haven't been persuaded that the predicate
      prepositional phrases in the sentences under discussion are in any
      way a subject, logical or otherwise. CFH]
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