LINGUIST List 5.1156

Fri 21 Oct 1994

Sum: Predicative - case agreement

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  1. Richard Hudson UCL, predicative case-agreement

Message 1: predicative case-agreement

Date: Wed, 19 Oct 94 09:04:56 +0predicative case-agreement
From: Richard Hudson UCL <>
Subject: predicative case-agreement

A week or so ago I asked for data from languages like Latin in
which predicative adjectives or nouns have morphological case.
I wanted to know what case the predicative had after an
infinitive in a control subject, e.g. after `persuade'. I had
answers from all the people listed at the end, who I can now
thank publicly.

General conclusion

1. Can predicatives agree with their subjects?

Yes, in some languages the case of the predicative varies with
that of the subject - ie. the predicative agrees in case (as
well as number and gender) with its subject. In others (e.g.
Russian, Standard Arabic, Finnish) the predicative's case
seems to be determined in other ways which make them less
relevant to the question behind the query. This kind of
agreement shows up clearly (and presumably uncontroversially)
in subject-object raising, alias exceptional case-marking,


(1) (NT Greek; < James Tauber)
logizesthe eautous einai nekrous
 reckon yourselves to be dead

(2) (NT Greek; < James Tauber)
thelO .... umas sofous einai
I wish you wise to be

(3) (Ancient Greek; source asked not to be quoted on details!)
 pre'pei autoi~s agathoi~s ei~nai
 incumbs them good to be

(I don't know how to interpret "~" in this transcription.)

(4) (Latin: Cicero _Tusc_ 1.15, 33; < Max Wheeler)
Licuit esse otioso Themistocli
It was permitted to be idle Them.

(5) (Latin; < Nigel Love)
Traditur Johannes esse bonus.
It is said John to be good

(6) (ditto; confirmed by William Diver)
Traditur Johannem esse bonum.
It is said John to be good

(No raising here, but these two examples illustrate subject-
predicate agreement.)

(7) (Latin; < Anna Morpurgo Davies)
Bellum facturos (se) policentur
war about to make themselves they promise

(Raising here without an infinitive, and with an optional
raised subject! Wow!!! Confirmed by next example.)

(8) (Latin; < Anna Morpurgo Davies, confirmed by Nigel Love)
Volo esse studiosus
I want to be studious

(9) (ditto)
Vole (me) esse studiosum
I want myself to be studious

(10) (Icelandic; < Zaenen et al 1985:449)
E'g tel O'laf vera bo'nda.
I believe Olaf to be farmer

2. What about predicatives inside control structures?
In languages where the predicative does agree in case with its
subject, at least some `control' structures seem to follow
just the same pattern as for raising structures, with the
predicative agreeing in case with the overt `controlling' NP.

(11) (Ancient Greek; < Anna Morpurgo Davies; confirmed by
Lambrecht Knut)
Sokra'te:s e'peise Xanthi'ppe:n agathe:'n ei^nai
Socrates persuaded Xanthippe good to be

(If passive, both "Xanthippe" and "agathe" would have been

(12) (Ancient Greek, Herodotus VII 160; < Anna Morpurgo
Davies; confirmed by Cora Lopresti)

su` me'ntoi .... ou]' me e]'peisas askhe:'mona e]n te:i^
you indeed not me persuaded indecorous in the

 a]moibe:i^ gene'sthai
 answer be

(I'm not sure how to interpret "]" in this transcription.)

(13) (NT Greek, Titus 2.4; < James Tauber)
sOfronizOsin tas neas filandrous einai
they may train the young women husband-loving to be

(14) (Icelandic, Anderson (1992:116); < Annabel Cormack)
E'g bad- hann ad- vera go'd-an
I told him to be good

("d-" = crossed d; in this and the next example `good' can
also be NOM.)

(15) (ditto)
Hann skipad-i honum ad- vera god-um
He ordered him to be good

(16) (ditto)
E'g lofad-i honum ad- vera go'd-ur
I promised him to be good

3. Theory. So what?
In `control' examples, is the predicative adjective agreeing
with the controlling NP itself (e.g. the order-ee or the
persuade-ee), or with PRO which agrees in Case with the
controlling NP? The latter interpretation is espoused by
Sigurdsson and Anderson, for example, but it isn't self-
evidently right. How can we decide between these


Anderson, S. 1992. A-Morphous Morphology. CUP.

Andrews, A. 1971. Case agreement of predicate modifiers in
Ancient Greek. LI 2, 127-151.

Andrews, A. 1982. The representation of case in Modern
Icelandic. In Bresnan (ed.) The Mental Representation of
Grammatical Relations, MIT Press, 427-503; especially 451.

Lakoff, R. 1968. Abstract Syntax and Latin Complementation.
MIT Press.

Sigurdsson, H. 1991. Icelandic case-marked PRO and the
licensing of lexical arguments. NLLT 9, 327-363.

Zaenen, A, Maling, J and Thrainsson, H. 1985. Case and
grammatical functions: the Icelandic passive. NLLT 3, 441-483.

Thanks to:

Leslie Barrett, Loren Allen Billings, Alan Cienki, Bernard
Comrie, Annabel Cormack, John Cowan, Anna Morpurgo Davies,
William Diver, Ursula Doleschal, Alex Eulenberg, Robert
Hoberman, Lambrecht Knut, Cora Lopresti, Nigel Love, Philip
Miller, Regina Moorcroft, Bert Peeters, David Pesetsky,
Carsten Peust, Karen Robblee, And Rosta, Rex A. Sprouse,
Cynthia Vakareliyska, Max Wheeler, David Wigtil, James Tauber

Dick Hudson
Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
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