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

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  • David Kiltz
    ... 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
    Message 1 of 17 , 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]
    • David Kiltz
      ... The distinction logical vs grammatical subject is, IMHO, in general terms unfortunate. The definition of grammatical subject is apparently based solely
      Message 2 of 17 , May 14, 2003
        On Mittwoch, Mai 14, 2003, at 06:03 Uhr, Carl Hostetter wrote:

        > 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]

        The distinction logical vs grammatical subject is, IMHO, in general
        terms unfortunate.

        The definition of "grammatical subject" is apparently based solely on
        formal grounds.

        [Not at all. I think of the grammatical subject of a sentence as that
        part of the sentence filling the role or function of the subject,
        regardless of its form. You are quite right to have noted that form and
        function must be kept separate (no matter how much they might coincide
        at times); but that is not the failure of distinction here. As I see it,
        you are taking a predicate prepositional phrase == prep. + grammatical obj.
        of prep., and calling this the "subject" of the sentence, by which you mean
        "logical subject". I have yet to be convinced that this has any validity,
        but even if it does, it was your use of "subject" for (whatever you mean by)
        "logical subject" that caused the confusion. CFH]

        I think this view doesn't do the language justice. If, syntactically,
        the subject is the first participant of a verb (or the only one of the
        copula) then it is most prominently encoded as nominative but it
        doesn't have to be. As you accepted, "to be" doesn't take an object.
        What then is "thee", the object of a preposition ? I never heard
        anybody call it that.

        [Oh, but I have, many, many times, from many different sources,
        spoken and written. I daresay anyone educated in grammar in an
        English-speaking school will have learned to call such the "object of
        the preposition". CFH]

        The term object is ambiguous here since it is applied to two
        syntactically (not formally) completely different phenomena. What I'm
        aiming it, is establishing a relation between the syntactical terms subject
        and object vis-à-vis case endings. Unlike Ivan Derzhanski I don't think
        this obscures anything because there is no one-to-one relation between
        those categories. I still don't see how it could make sense to say a
        preposition takes the accusative and dative, hence we give it the same
        name as a syntactical relation to a verb.

        [And yet we do, and for very long now have. CFH]

        Why bother with syntax anyway, if we don't make a distinction? I'm not
        trying to obscure an equation that doesn't exist but to illustrate a
        difference.

        Out of curiosity: How would you define the function of subject and
        object in a sentence?

        [I don't think I would attempt to; I'm not that kind of linguist. But I
        knows 'em when I sees 'em. CFH]

        David Kiltz
      • Frederick Hoyt
        [This discussion is drifting far afield from Tolkien s languages -- whatever the linguistic merits of the discussion, we can be pretty certain that Tolkien
        Message 3 of 17 , May 14, 2003
          [This discussion is drifting far afield from Tolkien's languages -- whatever
          the linguistic merits of the discussion, we can be pretty certain that Tolkien
          never concerned himself with "pivots" or "binding theory prominence" while
          practising his language-making Art. If anyone wishes to continue this
          discussion, it will have to be brought 'round to Tolkien again. CFH]

          Please pardon me if I crash this thread.

          Yehuda Falk of the Hebrew University has written a very nice (short,
          clear, to the point) paper on the distinction between different notions
          of "subject." He summarizes varies threads of research going back to at
          least the early 1970's, and motivates a basic distinction between the
          Pivot (grammatical subject, discourse-functional subject), and Logical
          Subject (most 'salient' thematic participant). The distinction is
          backed up by a battery of criteria drawing on a wide range of
          languages. It's available online as a PDF:

          http://cslipublications.stanford.edu/LFG/5/lfg00falk.pdf

          Distinguishing between the Pivot and Logical Subject might go a long
          way toward clearing up some of the terminological issues addressed in
          the preceding posts. Whether or not one chooses to adopt the
          terminology, the evidence clearly supports the distinction between a
          grammatical subject and a semantic subject.

          Thanks,

          Fred Hoyt

          Frederick M. Hoyt
          Linguistics Department
          University of Texas at Austin
          fmhoyt@...
          LIN 312 - The Linguistics of Middle-earth website:
          http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~fmhoyt/LIN312Homepage/312Main.html
        • Lukas Novak
          ... Please excuse me to intrude on your learned discourse, but it seems to me that the differences are more than slight . It seems to me that arguing that
          Message 4 of 17 , May 15, 2003
            David Kiltz wrote:

            > 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).

            Please excuse me to intrude on your learned discourse, but it seems
            to me that the differences are more than "slight". It seems to me that
            arguing that these three sentences are "logically the same" is to make
            the same mistake as many logicians do when they claim that since a
            proposition A1 is equivalent to A2, they are one and the same (and
            according to the logician's preferences, either A1 is claimed to be
            only an inadequate expression of which the true logical form is A2,
            or vice versa).

            In my opinion, at least on the logical level there is a clear distinction
            between the proposed three sentences. In "The Lord is with thee",
            "The Lord" is the logical subject, of which "being with thee" is
            predicated. In "You are with the Lord", the subject is "You",
            and in the last one the subject is "The Lord and thou".
            Although these sentences are _logically_ equivalent, i.e. they imply
            from each other mutually, they are in fact essentially different:
            they have different subjects and predicates. In the first you say
            about the Lord that he has some relation of proximity to "thee", in
            the second you say that "thou" have some relation of proximity to the
            Lord. As theologians would claim, these relations are not the same and
            differ radically in their ontological nature.

            I am not exactly aware of what you mean by "functional", so I will
            refrain from arguing whether they can be said to be "functionally" the
            same. However, my belief is that grammar serves to express in some way
            the logical structure of thought (or language, if you will). Therefore
            it seems to me that if there is a logical distinction between two
            sentences, and if there is some distinction in their grammatical structure,
            that can be seen as corresponding to this logical distinction, then it
            is unsubstantiated to deny that the grammatical structure reflects directly
            the actual logical strucxture of these sentences, and can therefore
            not be dismissed as mere surface variation in expressing one and the
            same thing (thought or proposition).

            > 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.

            I think I have to disagree from the (philosophical-)logician's point of
            view. In this sentence the subject indeed is "the window". It is
            the window that is the object of the mental act of characterizing,
            known as judgement, therefore it is the window what is the subject of
            the judgement from the logical point of view; and the characteristic
            ascribed to the window is certain passion it suffers from the bullet,
            i.e. it is the characteristic "that which has been hit by a bullet" is
            the predicate of the judgement. Of course, this proposition or
            judgement implies a _distinct_ judgement about the bullet, ascribing
            it an _action_, namely that of having hit the window. And it also
            implies many other distinct judgements, e.g. a judgement about the
            existence of the action of the bullet's hitting the window, etc. They
            are logically equivalent, but that does not mean identical.

            I think I can trace why it seems that the "logical" subject of passive
            sentences is the agent. It is because the real agent is the
            ontological subject of the action. But the real patient is also
            the ontological subject - of its passion. And regardless of all that, the
            question of what the _logical_ subject of a judgement or proposition is
            does not in any way depend on what the ontological subject is and what
            the ontological property is. Nothing hinders you from making an
            ontological property, such as action or passion (see the abovementioned
            example) the logical subject of your proposition, since as long as
            anything is capable of becoming an (ontological) object of human thought,
            it is capable of becoming the logical subject of the judgements made
            by humans, since to think about something means to ascribe it some
            characteristics in judgements, in which it is the subject and the
            characteristics the predicate.

            Lukas, a would-be philosopher, but not a linguist,
            who is nevertheless deeply enjoying this extremely
            interesting discussion.
          • Lukas Novak
            ... There was a rule in scholasticians disputations that it was the task of the one who denied a distinction to prove the identity, not vice versa. The reason
            Message 5 of 17 , May 15, 2003
              David Kiltz wrote:

              > Why bother with syntax anyway, if we don't make a distinction? I'm not
              > trying to obscure an equation that doesn't exist but to illustrate a
              > difference.

              There was a rule in scholasticians' disputations that it was the task
              of the one who denied a distinction to prove the identity, not vice
              versa. The reason is that a false distinction does not produce
              any false implications (it only hinders from inferring some true ones);
              whereas false identity does.

              Lukas
            • Ales Bican
              Patrick Wynne wrote in response to Hans wish to see some evidence ... **However, it must be noted that development of monosyllabic words (MWs) differed from
              Message 6 of 17 , May 23, 2003
                Patrick Wynne wrote in response to Hans' wish "to see some evidence
                why _-ni, -le_ are accusative in form":

                > One reason for assuming _óni_ contains acc. _-ni_ is phonological,
                > and a key piece of evidence occurs in the very sentence Hans cites:
                > _tye-meláne_ 'I love thee' (V:61). The Etymologies gives the base
                > of 'I' as NI- (2), and a consistent phonological rule throughout the
                > external history of Q(u)enya is that original short final _*-i_
                > becomes _-e_, e.g. *_liñwi_ 'fish' > Q _lingwe_ (V:369 s.v. LIW-).

                **However, it must be noted that development of monosyllabic
                words (MWs) differed from development of polysyllabic ones.
                For instance, it seems that certain short vowels were lost finally
                (cf. _abaro_ > CE _abar_, WJ/XI:371). This could not happen in MW,
                because the very word would be lost then. Also, we know that long
                vowels were reduced to short ones finally. However, MWs seem not
                to reduce them, cf. _ní_ "woman" < NÍ (Etym) or _vá_, apparently
                from _bá_ (WJ/XI:370). The Plotz Letter informs us that "all long
                vowels were reduced to short vowels finally" in Spoken Quenya.
                Again MWs seem not follow the rule, because we have _sí_ "now"
                in "_Namárie_", for instance.

                > Thus it is likely that the subject pronoun _-ne_ 'I' in _tye-
                > meláne_is from earlier *_-ni_.

                **That is certainly possible (though the subject pronoun for
                "I" could have been simply *_-ne_ then (i.e. with the original
                _e_, not from _i_)).

                I think we do not have explicit examples of development of final
                short _-i_ in MWs, but it is possible that even in them the _-i_
                turned to _-e_. Or at least in the Etym (and _Lost Road_) era.
                We may also note that Etym gives _no_ "under", apparently from
                *_nu_. This would then show change of final _-u_ to _-o_
                (parallel to change of _-i_ to _-e_) in a MW. Nevetheless, "_Namárie_"
                gives _nu_ "under" instead. If we suppose that the "_Namárie_"
                version of the preposition has the same origin, i.e. *_nu_, then it
                might be that Tolkien changed his mind and decided that vowels
                (or at least _u_ and _i_) did not undergo any change. Of course, the
                origin of _nu_ might have been *_nó_, but we should then ask why
                the long vowel was shortened if another long vowel in _sí_ was not.

                > Note that the various versions of the Átaremma consistently
                > maintain the distinction between nom. _emme_ 'we' and
                > acc. _me_ 'us', e.g. _emme avatyarir_ 'we forgive' versus _úa
                > mittanya me_ 'do not lead us' in At. I (VT43:8).

                In a reply to Beregond Patrick wrote:

                > I have shown that _-ni_ in _óni_ must derive from *_-nî_, the
                > lengthened vowel strongly suggesting that it is accusative
                > ["because *_ô-ni_ would regularly yield **_óne_"]; I have shown
                > that _-me_ in _óme_ is identical in form with accusative _me_
                > 'us' in the Átaremma and elsewhere, and that _te_ in _óte_
                > appears to be identical to accusative _te_ 'them' in _a laita
                > te_ 'praise them'. It is not unreasonable then to suppose that
                > the other forms in this same chart, _óle_ et al., are based on
                > accusative forms as well, with of course the exception of
                > _onye, olye_, in which the endings _-nye, -lye_ are attested
                > as nominative.

                However, _me_ seems to be a nominative form as well, cf. _men_
                in the same text. The form is not *_mén_, so it points rather to
                nominative. I have mentioned that the form _sí_ "now" did not
                undergo the shortening. Now consider _sín_ in SD/IX:310: the
                vowel is not shortened when an ending _-n_ is added (whatever
                its function). In Etym such a shortening is seen, because the base
                SI- lists _sin_ besides _sí_. This is therefore another piece that
                suggests that Tolkien changed his mind as regards the development
                and behavior of MWs, because the form _sin_ appears in an
                earlier version of the _Atalante_ Fragments (see LR/V:46).
                Moreover, it is usually nominative (the least marked form) that
                acquires case ending (more precisely, it is the least marked form
                serves as nominative).

                The fact that the reflex of final short CE _-i_ in _-e_ in Quenya is
                not, in my view, sufficient for assuming that _-ni_ in an accusative
                form, because as I have tried to show the behavior of CE
                monosyllabic words is slightly different to the behavior of CE
                polysyllabic words.

                The question is whether_-ni_, _-le_ etc. in the _ó-_ chart (VT43:29)
                are suffixes or whether the _ó-_ is a prefix. What I want to say is
                which of the segments could stand alone, that is, which of them is
                a separate word -- if any of them.

                If _-ni, -le_ etc. are only suffixes and cannot stands as separate words,
                I would not speak of them as of nominative or accusative forms but
                rather as subject and object forms. Nominative does not necessarily
                means subject and accusative does not necessarily mean object. Now
                the question is of course whether they are subject or object forms.
                It may be they are both (with _nye_ and _lye_ as alternatives).
                However, if _ni, le_ etc. are separate words, then we can speak
                about nominative and accusative, because the least marked forms
                would be nominative from which accusative could be formed.
                Nominatives would act as subjects and accusative as (direct) objects
                in most cases. Yet here again I do not think we can say whether
                they are the former or the latter, since the accusative as a case did
                not exist in Spoken Quenya. Now as regards the forms _-s_ and
                _-t_ (in _ós_ and _ót_, being variants of _ósa_ and _óta_), they
                are hardly separate words. They may be reduced forms of _-sa_
                and _-ta_ or plain suffixes, perhaps like _-nye_ and _-lye_, but
                these could also perhaps stand alone, cf. _tye_ and _lye_ in _lyenna_.

                > Acc. _me_ 'us' occurs in the dual form _met_ 'us two' in _Namárie_ as
                > the object of a preposition: _imbe met_ 'between us (two)'.

                **If _me_ is an accusative form, we should ask why the long vowel was
                here shortened if long vowels seem not to be shortened in MWs. The
                same with _met_ -- why is it not *_mét_?

                > And I would propose that it is this same acc. _me_ that appears in
                > _óme_ *'with us' in the chart cited in VT43:29. Similarly, the pl. pron.
                _-te_ in _óte_ on the chart appears to be masculine, [...].

                Does it? I think you meant "personal" (_-ta_ being impersonal), at least
                this is what is implied from what is said on p. 20 of VT43. But if you really
                meant masculine, what would be the corresponding feminine form?


                Ales Bican
              • Hans
                ... In fact, the Plotz Letter says so explicitly, the sentence you quoted continues: ... and before final cons. in words of two or more syllables . This is
                Message 7 of 17 , May 25, 2003
                  --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, Ales Bican <ales.bican@s...> wrote:

                  > The Plotz Letter informs us that "all long
                  > vowels were reduced to short vowels finally" in Spoken Quenya.
                  > Again MWs seem not follow the rule, because we have _sí_ "now"
                  > in "_Namárie_", for instance.

                  In fact, the Plotz Letter says so explicitly, the sentence you quoted
                  continues: "... and before final cons. in words of two or more
                  syllables". This is obviously connected with stress, remember
                  that the prefix _ó-_ becomes _o-_ when unstressed (XI:367).
                  With the retraction of stress, final vowels became unstressed
                  always, and shortened. This did not necessarily (or never?)
                  happen in monosyllabic words.

                  > **That is certainly possible (though the subject pronoun for
                  > "I" could have been simply *_-ne_ then (i.e. with the original
                  > _e_, not from _i_)).

                  I can't see any reason to assume that. The _-ne_ in _meláne_ has a
                  natural explanation, and in any other case I know of, the form is
                  _ni_ or derived from it. Let's analyze a few occurrences of the 1.
                  person sg. pronoun in the corpus:

                  We have
                  _ni_ "I" (Arctic Sentence)
                  _Atarinya_ "my father" (V:61)
                  _meláne_ "I love" (same page)
                  _inye_ "I" (same page)
                  _indo-ninya_ "my heart" (V:72)
                  _nin_ "me" (same page)
                  _NI_2 "I" (V:378)

                  This shows a consistent picture up to Etymologies: _ni_ or _inye_ as
                  "I", _-nya_ or even _ni-nya_ as possessive suffix, _ni-n_ as dative.
                  The change *_-ni_ >_-ne_ in final position was purely phonological.
                  A short pronominal suffix _-n_ is found in numerous entries in
                  Etymologies, too. Again, this fits into the general picture: short final
                  vowels (since unstressed) were lost often. So we can see two
                  alternative developments: *_-ni_ > _-ne_ > _-n_, or instead
                  strengthening of the suffix _-ne_ > _-nye_. It seems likely that
                  the possessive suffix was formed by combining _ni_ with the adjectival
                  suffix _-ya_, *_-niya_ > _-nya_. The pronoun remained through all
                  stages of Quenya. It appeared as a prefix shortly:

                  _nilendie_ "I have come" (IX:56)
                  _nimaruvan_ "I shall dwell" (same page)

                  The dative form _nin_ "for me" appears in Namárie (LR:368) and in the
                  late notes on _óre_ (VT41:11). Some time between them, we have the
                  forms _ónye_ and _óni_. As I said already, the argument that the pronouns
                  are not nominative (or subjective) in form makes sense, in my opinion.
                  They shouldn't be, because a subject doesn't need prepositions.

                  > The fact that the reflex of final short CE _-i_ in _-e_ in Quenya is
                  > not, in my view, sufficient for assuming that _-ni_ in an accusative
                  > form, because as I have tried to show the behavior of CE
                  > monosyllabic words is slightly different to the behavior of CE
                  > polysyllabic words.

                  Sure, but _-ni_ attached to anything are two syllables at least. Of
                  course, Patrick's argument relies on the assumption that the
                  custom of attaching pronominal suffixes to prepositions (which
                  obviously did not exist in CE) occurred earlier than the change
                  of final short -i > -e.

                  It seems that _ni_ did not occur as a stand-alone word in the corpus
                  after the Arctic Sentence. _inye_ seems to be derived form an
                  augmented form *_i-ni_. At least, that would explain the difference
                  to _elye_ "you" (LR:368).

                  I'll return to "you" (and other pronouns) in other posts.

                  Hans
                • David Kiltz
                  ... Orthotone vs enclitic variants ? David Kiltz
                  Message 8 of 17 , May 26, 2003
                    On Freitag, Mai 23, 2003, at 09:00 Uhr, Ales Bican wrote:

                    > **If _me_ is an accusative form, we should ask why the long vowel was
                    > here shortened if long vowels seem not to be shortened in MWs. The
                    > same with _met_ -- why is it not *_mét_?

                    Orthotone vs enclitic variants ?

                    David Kiltz
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