Thomas R. Wier scripsit:

> > > (2) a.  David was writing on Tuesday, but not Thursday.
> > >     b.  **Tuesday was being written on.
> >
> > But 2b is perfectly perspicuous if Tuesday is the topic rather than the
> > date,
> Whether something is "perspicuous" is rather beside the point; the
> question is whether it is sensed to be grammatical.  And I'm
> pretty sure I can't get your topic reading. :)

Eh?  Are you confused by my use of "topic"?  I don't mean it in the
linguistic sense, but rather as a synonym for "subject matter".  IOW,
I don't think 2b is ungrammatical at all, simply that it cannot accept
the reading you are trying to assign to it, because "David was writing
on X" is three-ways ambiguous (X is the date, X is the subject matter,
X is the writing surface) whereas "X was written on" can only accept
the reading in which X refers to the writing surface.

> Ah, but you'll remember that the problem with this famous sentence
> (perhaps tied for second with "Tabs are being kept on Jane Fonda")
> is not that there are differing contexts, but that "conjecture"
> requires a phrasal complement, and "Ex-lax" is allowed only in the
> marked case of elision, which has a different structure. Thus
> (2b) is bad because the structure semantic mapping being imposed
> onto it is bad.

Yes, but just how is that s.s.m. being imposed?  Solely through the
context of grammaticality-judgment examples.

>   (1) a. Liberal activists gave the NEA money.
>       b. The NEA was given money.
>       c. *The money was given the NEA (where "the NEA" is still the
>          recipient)

But "to the NEA" is grammatical, which means that we do have a passivization
of the patient, simply with different constraints on what happens to the

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 I wish it were impossible."