Dissertation:
Dative Subjects : Historical Change Visualized

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2018
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The Icelandic case system presents an interesting linguistic puzzle. Languages tend to use either word order, case and/or agreement to signal grammatical relations (Kiparsky 1987, 1988, 1997). Icelandic is atypical in this respect as it has a rather rigid word order, but also retained a rich morphological case system over the centuries. Moreover, non-nominative subjects exist in the language, with in particular the synchronic existence of dative subjects being well-established (Andrews 1976, Zaenen et al. 1985). From a diachronic perspective, dative subjects have also attracted a good deal of research, specifically with respect to the question about whether dative subjects are a common Proto-Indo-European feature or whether they are a more recent historical innovation (see, e.g., Haspelmath 2001, Barðdal and Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal et al. 2012). In this thesis, I investigate factors conditioning the diachronic occurrence of dative subjects in the Icelandic Parsed Historical Corpus (IcePaHC, Wallenberg et al. 2011) to provide a window of understanding of the complex system licensing grammatical relations in the language, contributing to the discussion which evolved around the historical origin of dative subjects. As method of investigation, I utilize novel visualization techniques coming from the field of Visual Analytics (Keim et al. 2008). The investigations presented in this thesis show that dative subjects are part of a complex interlinked system in which case, word order, grammatical relations, lexical semantics and event structure interact in the mapping of arguments to grammatical relations. For one, I provide my findings with respect to the interaction between dative subjects, thematic roles, event structure and voice in IcePaHC, showing that the distribution of dative subjects has been changing in the history of Icelandic, in particular with respect to an increasingly systematic association between dative subjects and experiencer semantics. This correlates with an increasing use of verbs carrying middle morphology, which have been lexicalized as stative experiencer predicates with a dative subject over time. I furthermore present an investigation of the interaction between subject case and word order which examines the interrelation between dative case, subject positions, and verb placement in IcePaHC. This investigation provides evidence for the diachronic development of structure and the rise of positional licensing in the language (in line with Kiparsky 1997); developments in which dative subjects consistently lag behind. For the theoretical analysis of the historical developments observed in IcePaHC, I present a novel linking theory couched in the Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG) framework in this thesis. My linking theory builds on the enhancements of LFG’s Lexical Mapping Theory by Zaenen (1993) and Kibort (2014) with respect to lexical semantic entailments and argument positions, separating out lexical semantics from structural positions. As core component of the linking system, I implement a reference frame in the form of Talmy’s (1978) figure-ground division, which functions as mediator between word order, lexical semantics, and event structure. Grammatical relations are linked to arguments via a set of lexical semantic entailments which follow from the event structure, the reference frame, and the sentience of arguments, associating grammatical relations with particular structural positions. Event structure is encoded in the linking system via the event participants assumed in Ramchand’s (2008) event-decompositional framework of the first-phase syntax and is taken to license case marking in Icelandic as has been suggested by Svenonius (2002). Overall, the linking analysis of the diachronic corpus data shows that the licensing conditions for case and grammatical relations have been changing over time, which questions the inheritance of a stable and monolithic dative subject construction from earlier language stages.
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400 Philology, Linguistics
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computational linguistics, corpus linguistics, visual analytics for linguistic, dative subjects, linking, icelandic, historical linguistics
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ISO 690SCHÄTZLE, Christin, 2018. Dative Subjects : Historical Change Visualized [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz
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@phdthesis{Schatzle2018Dativ-45157,
  year={2018},
  title={Dative Subjects : Historical Change Visualized},
  author={Schätzle, Christin},
  address={Konstanz},
  school={Universität Konstanz}
}
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December 12, 2018
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Konstanz, Univ., Doctoral dissertation, 2018
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