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Reconstructing constructional semantics: The dative subject construction in Old Norse-Icelandic, Latin, Ancient Greek, Old Russian and Old Lithuanian
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Baltic Languages, Finnish and German.
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2012 (English)In: Studies in Language, ISSN 0378-4177, E-ISSN 1569-9978, Vol. 36, no 3, 511-547 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As the historical linguistic community is well aware, reconstructing semantics is a notoriously difficult undertaking. Such reconstruction has so far mostly been carried out on lexical items, like words and morphemes, and has not been conducted for larger and more complex linguistic units, which intuitively seems to be a more intricate task, especially given the lack of methodological criteria and guidelines within the field. This follows directly from the fact that most current theoretical frameworks are not construction-based, that is, they do not assume that constructions are form-meaning correspondences. In order to meet this challenge, we present an attempt at reconstructing constructional semantics, and more precisely the semantics of the Dative Subject Construction for an earlier stage of Indo-European. For this purpose we employ lexical semantic verb classes in combination with the semantic map model (Bar partial derivative dal 2007, Bar partial derivative dal, Kristoffersen & Sveen 2011), showing how incredibly stable semantic fields may remain across long time spans, and how reconstructing such semantic fields may be accomplished

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2012. Vol. 36, no 3, 511-547 p.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108410DOI: 10.1075/sl.36.3.03barISI: 000312243800003OAI: diva2:757609
Available from: 2014-10-22 Created: 2014-10-22 Last updated: 2014-11-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Non-canonical case-marking on core arguments in Lithuanian: A historical and contrastive perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Non-canonical case-marking on core arguments in Lithuanian: A historical and contrastive perspective
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis presents a description and analysis of non-canonical case-marking of core arguments in Lithuanian. It consists of an introduction and six articles, providing historical and/or contrastive perspective to this issue. More specifically, using data from Lithuanian dialects, Old Lithuanian and other languages such as Icelandic, Latin and Finnic for comparison, the thesis examines the development and current state of non-canonical case-marking of core arguments in Lithuanian The present work draws on empirical findings and theoretical considerations to investigate non-canonical case-marking, language variation and historical linguistics.

Special attention is paid to the variation in the case-marking of body parts in pain verb constructions, where an accusative-marked body part is used in Standard Lithuanian, and alongside, a nominative-marked body part in Lithuanian dialects. A common objective of the first three articles is to clarify and to seek a better understanding for the reasons for this case variation. The research provides evidence that nominative is the original case-marking of body parts in pain specific construction, i.e. with verbs, with the original meaning of pain, like skaudėti and sopėti ‘hurt, feel pain’. On the contrary, in derived pain constructions, i.e. with verbs like gelti with the original meaning of ‘sting, bite’ and diegti with the original meaning ‘plant’, accusative is the original case-marking of body parts. This accusative is explained by means of an oblique anticausative and it is argued furthermore that it is extended into the pain specific construction. The three last articles focus on the comparative and contrastive perspective. Their main results include the following: Lithuanian and Icelandic differ considerably in the frequency of using accusative vs. dative marking on the highest ranked argument. Accusative is more frequently used in Lithuanian while dative is dominant in Icelandic. The semantic fields of the dative subject construction have remained very stable, suggesting that the dative subject construction is inherited. It has, however, become productive in the history of Germanic, Baltic and Slavic. The similarities in Finnic and Baltic partiality-based object and subject-marking systems are due to Baltic influence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2014. 94 p.
Stockholm studies in Baltic languages, ISSN 0281-5478 ; 9
Case-marking, non-canonical subjects, core arguments, Lithuanian, Old Lithuanian, Lithuanian dialects, pain verbs, oblique anticausative, Icelandic, historical linguistics, contrastive linguistics, Construction grammar, Role and Reference grammar
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Baltic Languages
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108978 (URN)978-91-87235-75-7 (PDF) (ISBN)978-91-87235-76-4 (Print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-12-12, hörsal 2, hus A, Universitetsvägen 10 A, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: In press. Paper 2: In press. Paper 3: In press.

Available from: 2014-11-20 Created: 2014-11-09 Last updated: 2014-11-24Bibliographically approved

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