Nancy Gish wrote:
> So to the extent you have shown flexible word order, it is due to the
> remaining Germanic inflections we have for pronouns, in other words to
> morphology rather than syntax. That is, it is the inflections that allow the
> messing around with syntax. The minute you put it in normal word order
> for modern English--"the spaniel bit the collie" or "the collie bit the spaniel"
> --you no longer have options for meaning: it has been determined by
> syntax. Can you suggest examples that do not depend on inflections?
Not really -- unless you allow semantics? "Nail hammered the man." One
might suspect that there exists a boxer whose first name is Nail, and
I'm not sure what role the article plays here. "The nail hammered the
man." "A nail hammered the man." ????? (This is _not_ my field of
expertise!) Searle has written some interesting critiques of Chomskyan
linguistics, arguing (very roughly) that it is impossible to explain the
syntax of a language without recourse to semantics.
But we're getting a long way off from my casual joke about the
participial construction in german!
P.S. Is the work by Twain someone cited in an earlier post the same work
in which he complains that Schiller wrote the history of the 30 Years
War between the parts of a separable verb (and added something like
"Thank god he didn't write a history of the 100 Years War") .