The Quest for Cognates: A Reconstruction of Oblique Subject Constructions in Proto-Indo-European

Jóhanna Barðdal, Thomas Smitherman
2013 Language Dynamics and Change  
The enigma of the origin of non-canonical subject marking in the world's languages has been met with two competing hypothesis: the OBJECT-TO-SUBJECT Hypothesis and the OBLIQUE SUBJECT/SEMANTIC ALIGNMENT Hypothesis (cf. Eythórsson & Barðdal 2005) . The present paper argues in favor of the Oblique Subject/Semantic Alignment Hypothesis, presenting five sets of cognate predicates in the early/archaic Indo-European daughter languages that occur in the Oblique Subject Construction, cognate sets that
more » ... cognate sets that have not figured in the earlier literature. Not only are the stem cognates, but they also occur in a cognate compositional predicate and argument structure construction, with a dative subject, the verb 'be' and an adjective, a noun, or an adverb. These data form the input of a correspondence set, on which basis we reconstruct predicate-specific oblique subject constructions, a partial predicate-specific oblique subject construction, as well as a more abstract schematic dative subject construction for Proto-Indo-European, using the formalism of Sign-Based Construction Grammar. The evidence presented here thus suggests that oblique subjects are inherited from an early proto-stage and do not represent an individual development in the Indo-European daughter languages.
doi:10.1163/22105832-13030101 fatcat:f7i2dlhtebhchjuvktszck7pdm