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Quoting Andreas Johansson <[log in to unmask]>:

> Quoting "Thomas R. Wier" <[log in to unmask]>:
>
> > Quoting Andreas Johansson <[log in to unmask]>:
> >
> > > Either I'm misunderstanding you, or this is a complex way of
> > > saying that English has a null realization of the Germanic dative marker.
> > > This is assuming that there's no deep difference between a null
> > > case ending and a null preposition, and that dropping a null
> > > element isn't any different from keeping it in.
> >
> > Well, in most brands of Chomskyan syntax, case is an abstract
> > property or force. It is not so much simply a requirement of the
> > verb as the result of specific structural relationships holding
> > between a head and its specifier or complements. Prepositions,
> > verbs, nouns, etc. *are* those heads, specifiers or complements.
> > You might think of case as being the skeletal relation in a
> > tree-structure, and nouns, prepositions, etc. are the flesh of
> > the sentence.
>
> You've lost me (and jolly surprised we are too!). I mean, precisely
> _because_ case is an abstract property, it ought to be synchronically
> immaterial if we analyze "John" as being a zero proposition plus noun
> or noun plus zero case ending - either fleshes out the dative bone.
> (More economically, one'd argue that WO itself does it.) Unless we
> take case = that which is indicated by case endings, I can't see the
> difference between a null preposition indicative dativity and a null
> case ending doing the same.

(Remember that I'm trying to be a devil's advocate here; I'm not
actually a supporter of this theory.)

Perhaps I've been unclear.  The null, or zero, preposition is
not incorporated into the noun; it is incorporated into the
verb, videlicet:

   I give the dog (p) John.

     IP

           I'

       VP       I

   NP       V'

   I   V       DP        PP

      give            P     NP

            the dog  (p)   John

This would be, roughly speaking, the D-structure that
Baker would propose. What would happen here is that because
of the Stray Affix Filter (which says simply that all affixes
must surface attached to some constituent at S-structure),
the null preposition (p) must raise and morphological adjoin
to the V-node.  This leaves John stranded, since it cannot
acquire abstract case, it raises to be locally assigned
case by the new verb "give-(p)":

      IP

           I'

       VP       I

   NP       V'

   I   V       PP         DP

      give-p

            t   John    the dog

(The "t" here is a trace, which is supposed to account
for binding and anaphora phenomena.)  This precisely mimics
the behavior of applicative constructions such as those
in Bantu languages, according to Baker, where other phenomena
like passivization show that "John" has suddenly been
promoted to the direct object. (My work on the Georgian
superessive, however, shows that this is not a universal
feature of applicative constructions.)

> > > But I was thinking diachronically; I'd be very surprised to learn
> > > that constructions like _I give John the dog_ are reformed from
> > > things like _I give the dog to John_ rather than cognate to things
> > > like _Ich gebe ihm den Hund_.
> >
> > Remember that, for Chomsky and his ilk, diachronic facts are
> > historical curiosities of no fundamental importance.  He is
> > only interested in the internal workings of a speaker's grammar
> > as a window into the human mind.
>
> Well, bad for them.
>
> Then I invoke Ockham's razor. Its more straightforward to assume
> that SVxO syntax by itself indicates x to be a beneficirary than that
> "to" has an optional zero allomorph, which moves the prepositional
> phrase to between verb and direct object. We're not seeing any null
> endings nor null prepositions, and refuse to believe in them until
> they show up!

Well, I sympathize.  Like I said, I'm allergic to all the
null categories that Chomskyans invoke to explain their
movement rules.  Given the baroque machinery it has, Chomsky's
theory does account for a surprising number of properties of
natural language syntax.

 =========================================================================
Thomas Wier            "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally,
Dept. of Linguistics    because our secret police don't get it right
University of Chicago   half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of
1010 E. 59th Street     Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter.
Chicago, IL 60637