Jonas on the morphosyntax of the verb “think” from a comparative and diachronic perspective

During her visit to Australia, Dianne Jonas is giving two presentations on  her recent work on the diachronic change of the argument pattern of the verb think in a number of Germanic languages. On February 27, she gave a talk at the unversity of Melbourne on “Thinking comparatively and diachronically. A case study on the verb think“.  March 6, she will give a talk on “Morphosyntactic change – a case study of the verb think” at Monash university (Clayton campus).

Here is the abstract to the first of these two talks:

The topic of this talk is the comparative diachronic morphosyntax of think in English, Icelandic, Swedish, and Faroese. First, I give an overview of the morphosyntactic properties of the verb in the older languages and then a comparison of their development through to the modern languages. Of particular interest here are the case marking patterns that we find and the changes that occur between the older and modern languages. In addition, I give an overview of the syntactic properties of the verb think and how these properties change across time – complement types such at that-clauses, non-finite clauses, and small clauses. The Faroese verb tykja and its cognates in Old Swedish and Middle English show a common and relatively cross-linguistically unusual case marking pattern where the experiencer argument is marked with dative case and accusative case marking occurs on the subject of a small clause/non-finite complement. The languages differ in interesting ways with respect to case-marking patterns and the syntax of the constructions exhibiting this pattern in addition to their diachronic development. For the languages discussed here, the original case-marking is such experiencer constructions with the verb think is the experiencer subject in dative and the subject of the non-finite/small clause complement in nominative. This pattern then switches to accusative on the subject of the non-finite/small clause complement and it is this pattern that is unstable across the languages discussed here. The final part of the paper provides a brief overview of the final outcomes of diachronic change with respect to the verb think across the languages considered here.

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