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Subjektkasus und Finitheit. Eine korpusbasierte Studie zur Mikrovariation und zur Entwicklung kroatischer Modalkonstruktionen

Teil I. Mikrovariation im modernen Kroatischen

Björn Hansen, Veronika Wald, Zrinka Kolaković


Pages 113 - 195



Subject Case and finiteness: A Corpus Based Study on Microvariation and Historical Development of Modal Constructions in Croatian. Part 1: Microvariation in Modern Croatian

The paper is one of the very first specifically addressing the nature of subject encoding in constructions expressing the notions of possibility and necessity. It gives a comprehensive account of the microvariation of the encoding of the subject in relation to finiteness in Croatian modal constructions. As a matter of fact, in this language, modals allow for canonical and non-canonical subjects (‘Ljudi trebaju raditi‘ vs ‘Ljudima valja raditi’.). Apart from that, there is variation in the marking of subject-predicate agreement (‘Ljudi moraju raditi’ vs. ‘Ljudi mora da su radili’.). Some of these – as we call them – constellations of subject case and agreement patterns are the target of normativist debates. The paper starts out with a thorough description of the current language use based on data from the largest available corpus of modern Croatian hrWaC 2.0, a web corpus accessible via sketch engine. These data are contrasted with the most important normativist work on modern standard Croatian. In a next step, we discuss the features of subjects using a multifactorial framework inspired by the seminal work by Keenan from 1976 who distinguishes coding, control and semantic features. In a corpus-driven study we detect six possible combinations of different marking of subject, agreement and tense (constellation types). Some of these types are linked to epistemic modality like e. g. ‘Ljudi mora da su radili’. The modal ‘trebati’ turns out to be the most versatile element as it allows for all six constellation types. In the final section, we discuss the specific nature of subjects in modal constructions. It will be shown that some of the central control features discussed in literature such as the binding of reflexives, are not applicable to subjects of modal constructions. These subjects do not have as full a complement of properties as Keenan postulated for subjects of non-modal sentences.

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