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Original scientific paper

Branimir Belaj

Dubravko Kučanda



This paper analyzes the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic properties of datives in sentences like Iskliznuo mi je tanjur iz ruke (lit. ’Slipped to me is plate from hand’) and Vruče mi je (lit. ’To me is hot’). The first sentence contains two possible candidates for the subject function: the dative mi, which has some semantic and pragmatic subject properties, and the nominative NP tanjur, which controls agreement. The second sentence contains only the dative pronoun, which has the semantic and pragmatic but no syntactic subject properties. At first blush it seems that the first sentence has two subjects none of which, to paraphrase Keenan (1976), has a clear preponderance of subject–like properties. In this paper we shall argue that such non–canonical subject–like NPs are best described as quasi subjects, i. e., as NPs which have some morphosyntactic or semantic/pragmatic properties of subjects, but not sufficient properties to qualify as the subject of the sentence.



subject; quasi subject; syntactic functions of datives; morphosyntax; semantics; pragmatics; Croatian


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