A Pennsylvanian?

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Fri Jul 29 02:35:11 UTC 2011

On 27/Jul/11 8:03 PM, Damien Hall wrote:

> 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?

For another (but rather different) datapoint on this sort of thing,
consider the sign that i saw near Heceta Head Lighthouse (located in a
state park in Oregon) earlier this week:

Pets Not Allowed
in Buildings or
Left Unattended

As far as i could tell, this was an official sign erected by whatever
division of the Oregon state government is in charge of parks.

At first i thought that this was a "needs Xed" issue, because it's only
grammatical for my non-needs-Xed self if it's rephrased as "Pets not
allowed in buildings or to be left unattended." (I realize that the
non-parallel nature of the conjoined bits would create problems for
others, but it doesn't for me—and that's a different issue, anyway.)

On closer reflection, though, i don't think that this is pure needs Xed,
either. I'm not as clear on my syntax as i probably should be any more,
but the "allowed" makes it *feel* different to me. Does anyone who's up
on their needs Xed varieties know what the effect of a preceding allow
(or seem, or want) is for them?

David Bowie

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

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