Complements of adjectives: a diachronic approach

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In this paper we challenge the traditional view that adjectives do not subcategorise for the grammatical function OBJ. We argue instead that the more general cross-linguistic restriction is against the assignment of accusative case outside the domain of a governing verb or preposition. This may however be violated in particular languages as we show by comparing Old Swedish, in which adjectives may unusually take accusative complements as first noted by Platzack (1982a, b) and Maling (1983), with Latin, where an accusative complement of an adjective is not possible. We then explore the diachronic developments into modern Swedish and more generally the modern Germanic languages and contrast them with the changes that have taken place in the modern Romance languages. We show that there are significant differences between the two language families in the way prepositions compensate for the loss of morphological case. We also suggest an alternative to Maling's account of the history of English near.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the LFG10 Conference, Carleton University
EditorsMiriam Butt, Tracy Holloway King
Place of PublicationStanford, CA
PublisherCSLI Publications
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010
EventFifteenth International Lexical Functional Grammar Conference - Carleton University, Ottawa
Duration: 18 Jun 201020 Jun 2010


ConferenceFifteenth International Lexical Functional Grammar Conference
CityCarleton University, Ottawa


  • adjective, object, Latin, Swedish


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