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Concur. In Russian such a phrase is something which you encounter really
often in everyday speech. Moreover, the same intuition forces me to put an
indefinite article before or after the subject, which is completely
optional at other instances. Thus,

- А как ты так быстро управился? (So, how did you managed to do this so
fast).
- A мне мужик один вчера на складе помог. (Well, a/one man helped me a the
strore yesterday. Literally: "Well, me man one yesterday at store helped).

This is the first phrase my intuition serves to me. Observe the use of the
particle "a" at the beginning of the sentences, the mark of modern spoken
Russian, which is mostly avoided in the formal speech.


On Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 8:33 PM, Garth Wallace <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM, Wm Annis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > On Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM, Padraic Brown <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> >> I'd still hold that while indefinite
> >> subject / topic sentences may not be *as common* as defininte subject /
> >> topic sentences in English, they are not "unusual" or "surprisingly
> rare"
> >> in any way
> >
> > According to the following paper about English, the avoidance of agent
> > NPs is widespread,
> >
> >      http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ijel/article/view/17582
> >
> > From section 2.1, "Preferred Argument Structure,"
> >
> > "One of the factors that very likely interacts with Halliday and
> > Hasan's (1976) description of cohesive devices in English is known as
> > preferred argument structure in discourse. This has been shown to
> > exist in the discourse patterns of a range of the world's languages,
> > and may quite possibly be a universal of discourse organization in
> > human language (DuBois, 2003). It is preference in discourse
> > organization that consists of two related aspects: 1. Reduced forms,
> > such as pronouns, are generally preferred in the agent role
> > (e.g. transitive subjects); 2. This syntactic role also favours old
> > information rather than the introduction of new information."
>
> I'm not sure that isn't just an accident of statistics rather than an
> observation of how language works. After all, you generally only
> introduce a topic once, and as soon as it's introduced it's definite
> and available for anaphora.
>
> Indefinite subjects definitely don't seem at all awkward to my native
> speaker intuition, or even stylistically notable (like headline text,
> which drops articles and other "small words" whenever possible for
> brevity).
>