> From:    John Cowan <[log in to unmask]>
> > 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".
> Ah, well, we *were* talking about linguistics on a rather formal
> level, so I just assumed... but I still can't get any reading other
> with Tuesday as the patient, and not as the day.  I'm pretty sure
> that most English speakers will agree with me in this respect.

I agree with John. Most English speakers massively overgenerate
false negatives, when it comes to acceptability judgements.

> Again, this isn't relevant. *"The NEA was given money to by
> liberal activists" is grossly ungrammatical, and that's the analogous
> structure you're invoking.

It's usually considered ungrammatical, but in fact I've collected
quite a corpus of actual nonerror examples, and I suspect that the
constraint is semantic rather than syntactic, though I haven't been
able to put my finger on what it is.