The following sentence is from Icelandic language:

Mér    vir›ast   tNP    [hestarnir vera seinir]
meDAT  seemPL            the-horsesNOM be slow
‘It seems to me that the horses are slow.' 

                                               From Holmberg and Hróarsdóttir (2000, pp. 1-2)

Mér is marked as dative, and hestarnir as nominative. It means that hestanmir is related to the tense involved in this sentence (i.e., tNP). My two questions are:

  1. What are the tense elements involved in this sentence, and what's their relationship with respect to the nominative the horses?
  2. Is the embedded clause participial?
  • Vir>ast is not Icelandic; did you mean virðast? I’m not sure there is an embedded clause at all. Hestarnir virðast mér vera seinir (with a more straightforward, but I think equally grammatical and likely, word order) more clearly shows that hestarnir is the subject, virðast is a modal verb, vera is an excrescent copula, seinir the subject complement. May 16, 2020 at 14:03
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I copied the sentence from reference above. May be there was a problem with typing on word or PDF. Anyways, 'the horses are slow', is a copulative phrase?
    – Tsutsu
    May 16, 2020 at 14:10
  • Yes, but I don’t think it needs to be; I think (though I’m not 100% sure) that hestarnir virðast mér seinir (‘the horses seem slow to me’) is equally grammatical. Though I guess that rather makes virðast not so much a modal verb, since modal verbs do require an infinitive (or in Icelandic sometimes participial) complement. (I’m guessing the PDF probably uses a non-Unicode font, mapping the glyph ð to the code point >. It should be a ð, at any rate; single guillemets are not used as letters in Icelandic.) May 16, 2020 at 14:16
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I see the point now. Thank you !
    – Tsutsu
    May 16, 2020 at 14:22
  • Have you read the entire paper? cf. examples (11a-b), which are very clearly explained and analyzed in (28b-b'). doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2004.01.002
    – Alex B.
    May 16, 2020 at 14:44


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