double accusatives

Vidhyanath Rao vidynath at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Thu Jul 30 17:48:17 UTC 1998

Sandra van der Geer <info at TICONSOLE.NL> wrote:

>As we all observe that there is `some' difference between the two

But the real question is which is the `higher object' or whatever you
want to call it. In effect, the question is the precise semantics of

Boris Oguibenine wrote

>The point is that "pustakam darzayati/dadAti" is a complete utterance,
>whereas "*tam darzayati/dadAti" is an ellipsed utterance.

But it is precisely this that I am unsure of. If dar"sayati means `make
somebody see something', ``pustakam dar"sayati'' is incomplete. ``Make
see the book'' is no less incomplete than ``show him''. We cannot
analyze the syntax of a language based on translations to another, or
even a latter stage of the same language.

To give an example: In English, one says ``Milk the cow'' with milking
being something one does to the cow. In Modern Tamil, the typical
expression is ``paal ka_ra'', literally ``extract the milk'', with milk
as the object. There is a difference in the semantics of `milk' vs
`ka_ra', which makes for a difference in the passive. We cannot say that
the ablative is raised to the subject in ``cow is being milked'' because
in Tamil, the active is ``[maa.t.tiliruntu] paal ka_rakkiraan''. [I
deliberately chose this example because it is interesting to read the
Mahabhashya on double accusatives from this angle.]

The basic problem is that the definition of `direct object' depends on
the precise semantics of the verb. When semantics changes, the syntax
may or may not change in step [compare yaj]. We need to keep this in
mind before looking at passivization.

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