1. Are there linguistics terms that describe the following phonemenon?

2. I desire to learn the possible explanations or reasons that in English, certain verbs interchanged the subject and object to express the same meaning, whereas in other languages, the cognate verbs did not experience such change. Examples:

  1. The English verbs 'like' and 'please' originally required the object before the subject, as French and Spanish still require. What might have caused the inversion in English?

Gustar algo a alquien literally translates to 'something likes, to someone'.

  1. English and Spanish verbs express longing from the subject's perspective, but French from the object's. What might explain this difference? For example:

Spanish: Echo de menos a algo/alquno.
French: Quelqu'un ou quelque chose me manque.

  • 2
    Notice that like and please are both predicates of emotional status. You'll find that these verbs often have different configurations. Please, for instance, occurs either as stative or causative: I am pleased with that, That pleases me. Like in Middle English had a dative subject (like think and seem): This likes me not; Methinks she doth protest too much; Meseems it is too difficult. Now think has an experiencer subject, and seem is a flip verb that takes A-Raising. Things change over the centuries.
    – jlawler
    Sep 16, 2015 at 0:38

1 Answer 1


Haspelmath (see here for a reference Subtypes of Standard Average European) calls this Nominative experiencer for your English example and Dative experiencer for your Spanish example. There are studies of the frequency of the types of experiencer, including the study on Standard Average European by Haspelmath.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.