A Pennsylvanian?

Damien Hall D.Hall at KENT.AC.UK
Wed Jul 27 09:01:07 UTC 2011

It seems to me that Wilson's example

1)  He doesn't _need sold_ on the Macintosh. He already bought one.

is slightly different to the standard type of example

2)  The car needs washed.

(and "The lawn needs cut", etc) - that is, the surface structure is similar, but the semantics behind it (and possibly the syntax?) are not. If you expand 2) to

2') The car needs to be washed.

the car is the thing that has had water and soap applied to it to clean it - the Patient, in theta-role terms; on the other hand, if you expand the first sentence of 1) to

1')  He doesn't need to be sold on the Macintosh.

there has been no monetary transaction involving transfer of ownership of that person from one owner to another, so I don't think "He" would be the Patient. Rather, of course, this is the phrasal verb "sell (someone) on (something)", meaning "convince (someone) that an idea is right / that they should do a certain thing" etc.  In theta-role semantic terms, would that make "He" the Experiencer or something?

In any case, it seems to me that sentences like 1) are evidence that the "needs washed" structure can be applicable to any case where an alternative would be the surface- (and syntactically-)similar "needs to be washed", no matter what the semantics or theta-roles underlying that similarity.  This is a new fact to me, but I am not a specialist in this area.  I apologise for not having read all the research cited in the rest of the thread - but is this a new fact for anyone else?



Damien Hall

University of Kent (UK)
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, 'Towards a New Linguistic Atlas of France'

English Language and Linguistics, School of European Culture and Languages

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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