Jacob Baltuch jacob.baltuch at EURONET.BE
Mon Jul 6 19:17:30 UTC 1998

>>(a) A friend gave the man a book.
>>(b) The man was given a book by a friend.
>>How do I know that "the man" in (b) does NOT function as a dative?
>It cannot function as a dative, because it occupies the specifier-of-sentence
>position, in other words, it occupies the subject position.

Hmm, you can say "to the man a book was given by a friend" with the
dative opening the sentence. A bit "poetical" maybe but certainly

So your reason seems convincing only in conjuction with stating that
in that position a dative needs to be overtly expressed by a preposition.

Indeed in about any other position than immediately after the verb,
or at least after and with no major constituent in between, the dative
function must be expressed by a preposition (example: a friend gave
a book *to* the man and not **a friend gave a book the man)

But I think it is entirely adequate to say like Elliot that it is
immediately clear "the man" cannot be a dative just by replacing the
man with a pronoun (it's *he* was given a book by a friend and not **him
was given a book by a friend) which is much quicker and simpler and
just as adequate than all the reasons above.

Btw, you've gotta love this subject line! :-)

PS: Regarding "water was filled in the tank" I agree with Elliot. It
    presupposes "someone filled water in the tank" and that's not possible
    because you fill a tooth, a tank, land, a hole, a need, etc. but not
    water, earth, etc. In other words what you do the filling with cannot
    be the direct object of the verb "to fill". Maybe people in LA started
    talking like this (this sort of thing seems to be liable to change
    pretty fast in English -- the first time I went to the US I was amazed
    to hear people "freak" instead of freaking out, "fill" forms instead
    of filling them out and I suppose that applies also to the regime of
    verbs esp. monosyllabic ones although I can't think of a well-known
    example right now) but I don't think it's standard English yet. All
    of this is just a non-native speaker's opinion of course.

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