Print

Print


Hi!

John Cowan <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>...
> Chinese is neither syntactically accusative nor syntactically ergative,
> interpreting such sentences as containing semantic ellipsis rather than
> a syntactic gap, and filling the ellipsis with whatever makes sense:
>
> 	George dropped the watermelon and broke
> 	George dropped the watermelon and was embarrassed
>
> are both legitimate and sensible sentences.

As this is one of the examples that occur from time on this list, I
recently told this to a Korean, trying to tell him that Chinese syntax
is different in some ways from IE but also from Korean and Japanese.
However, I think the example does not test the property well, since he
said it was perfectly sensible in Korean, too (and with verbs that are
not semantically constrained, the sentence was ambiguous).  However, I
was convinced that Korean is syntactically accusative.

My thought is that this example only works as a test for syntactic
accusativity/ergativity in non-pro-drop languages.  In pro-drop
languages like Chinese or Korean, this example tests just nothing.

Maybe there are better examples?  Or maybe this test does show that
Chinese is neither, and that is *because* it is pro-drop?  Same for
Korean (which I had thought was syntactically accusative)?

**Henrik