A semantic test
Those who have done Icelandic studies may recollect the following pair of Modern Icelandic examples discussed in the 1990-ies. The autoreference (1st person singular present tense indicative) and the image of syntax as s stimulus of nausea are of course a joke: the examples come from a syntactician. Both 1a) and is 1b) are non-agreeing phrases, but in 1a) the oblique argument is marked with accusative, and in 1b) with dative.
(1a) Ice. Mig =1Prs Sg Acc velgir=3Sg við setningafræði =Acc prep Sg
‘I feel nauseous from syntax’.
(1b) Ice. Mér =1Prs Sg Dat býður=3Sg við setningafræði =Acc prep Sg
‘the same’ (???).
A. Do these sentence express the same meaning or two different ones?
B. If the meanings are different, which semantic apparatus can prove this intuition? Is there a better explanation than stating that ‘the verb in 1a) has a slightly different lexical meaning than the verb in 1b)’?
Modern Russian has a similar pair of examples. I am giving them below.
(2a) Ru. Меня=1Prs Sg Acc тошнит=3Sg от синтаксиса =Gen prep Sg.
(2b). Ru. Мне=1Prs Sg Dat тошно=3Sg от синтаксиса=Gen prep Sg.
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I have a formal explanation that (2a) and (2b) express two different meanings in Russian. Probably I’ll publish it on this website one day. But I first I would like to hear your reaction. Mind that both Modern Icelandic and Modern Russian can describe the denotative situation in (1ab) – (2ab) on a basis of different construction, with a dative argument and a nominative agreeing subject.
(3a) Ice. Mér =1PrsSgDat leiddist=3Sg setningafræði =NomSg ’I am tired of syntax’
(3b) Ru. Мне =1PrsSgDat надоел=3Sg /претит=3Sg синтаксис =NomSg.
‘I am tired (sick) of syntax/feel nauseous from syntax’.
I’ll specially appreciate examples from other languages than Icelandic and Russian.