dative "direct object"
wayne_leman at sil.org
Fri Oct 18 02:47:00 EDT 2002
On Thu, 17 Oct 2002 23:26:55 -0700
c stirling bartholomew <cc.constantine at worldnet.att.net> wrote:
> on 10/17/02 9:09 PM, c stirling bartholomew wrote:
> > on 10/17/02 8:33 PM, Steven Lo Vullo wrote:
> >> I have always taken for granted the category "dative direct object."
> >> However, in the course of reading the GNT and thinking about the verbs
> >> that are commonly described as taking a dative "direct object," I have
> >> come to wonder why the dative in such cases is described in this way.
> >> Are there good reasons to think of this use of the dative as a true
> >> direct object, or is there a better way to explain the phenomenon?
> > One option is to scrap the whole subject-object-indirect_object approach and
> > adopt an semantic functional scheme instead. The main verb of a clause can
> > be thought of as having zero or more arguments. Each argument can be
> > classified as an agent, patient, recipient, goal . . . But there is no
> > universally accepted working set of semantic functions.
> One might object that I am trying to replace a bicycle with a kayak. Since
> the S-V-O-IO system of analysis has a different focus than semantic
> functional analysis and both systems are used by most linguists.
> However, if you want to embark from Three Tree Point and go spy on Frank
> Peretti* to see if he has any territorial demons floating around in his
> yard, you can go by kayak or bicycle. Both will get you there. The kayak is
> more direct.
> My problem with the S-V-O-IO system is that Subject and Object are
> categories that don't map to anything definite. They are abstractions of a
> very unmanageable sort and they seem to just get in the way when you are
> trying to understand the meaning of a text.
Subjects and objects definitely are squishy (squeamish?) entities that linguists have wrestled with, attempting to come up with some kinds of definitions that can be more definite. One of the main problems is that they are syntactic notions, not semantic, altho there are, of course, semantic to syntactic mappings that often obtain, but these mappings will often vary from language to language. As a linguist, I do feel there is value in having syntactic categories, esp. if they reflect some kind of syntactic categorization which seems to have some kind of "truth" in the minds of speakers of a specific language. On a more univeral level, the semantic categories that Steve mentioned are oftentimes more useful. But most of us have been trained more in the syntactic categories than semantic ones, and this is definitely true of Greek studies.
I would not want to refer to a dative direct object. To me that's nearly a contradiction in terms. The functionalist linguist Givon does refer to dative objects, and I think this is reasonable for Greek.
In any case, much of the muddiness would be clarified if we were all taught in school the difference between semantic and syntactic categories.
We could then speak about the differences between English sentences pairs such as:
a. "I gave the present to Mary."
b. "I gave Mary the present."
In b Mary is the syntactic direct object, even tho she is still the semantic recipient, as she is in a.
There is application to Koine Greek. One of my Bible translation colleagues, Dr. Stephen Marlett, wrote his M.A. thesis on phenomena in Koine Greek similar to that of the English sentences in a and b, where Greek semantic recipients (or similar semantic categories) are syntactically treated as "direct objects" (marked with the accusative).
More information about the B-Greek