Indexicality across the boundaries of syntax, semantics and pragmatics: The constructional content of the Danish free indirect object

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Peter Juul Nielsen, Lars Heltoft

Abstract
The free indirect object (free IO) in Modern Danish presents an intricate problem, calling for concepts and solutions not normally connected with constructional syntax. Its frequency is extremely low, and intuitions about its acceptability vary according to basic speech act type. In assertive contexts, it seems old-fashioned and has a very low productivity; in regulative contexts, it retains full productivity.
The prototypical, valence governed IO is not part of this contextual issue but is important for comparison with the free IO. The free IO is a constructional extension to certain types of monotransitive constructions and verbs; by contrast, the valence governed IO is a manifestation of the third argument of three-place verb stems in transfer constructions.
Indexicality, as used especially in morphology by Henning Andersen and Raimo Anttila, is the key concept of our analysis. An IONP must identify its argument by pointing indexically to some aspect of the predicate’s semantics, but since a third argument A3 is not part of the verb’s valence schema, there is apparently nothing for the free IO to index. In special cases, however, most importantly in regulative contexts, the free IO finds an alternative indicatum by pointing to features of the performative situation.
A corpus search yields only a few positive results, but among these few almost all are compatible with our analysis.
The perspective of this is a grammatical theory that would allow syntactic rules to be not only semantically, but also pragmatically sensitive.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDitransitive Constructions in Germanic Languages : Diachronic and Synchronic Aspects
EditorsTimothy Colleman & al.
Number of pages36
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

ID: 226498337