argument structure of k'u 'give'

ROOD DAVID S rood at spot.Colorado.EDU
Wed Nov 17 21:21:39 UTC 2004

Regina has expressed surprise (see below) that the verb k'u 'give' does
not take benefactive morphology to mark the benefactive argument.  It has
long been a pet peeve of mine that we impose our Indo-European category
descriptions on other languages, and the whole elaborate discussion of
"secondary object languages" in the theoretical literature rests on
exactly that kind of imposition.  Lakhota is not terribly unusual among
the world's languages in treating the recipient of the 'give' action as
the real direct object, and the other participant as simply an adjunct,
unregistered in the verb.  If you want to make the Lakhota and English
structurally alike, try glossing the verb as 'to gift' rather than 'to
give'; I could say 'she gifted me with it' instead of 'she gave it to me'.
The reason there is no benefactive morphology with this verb is that it
doesn't take a syntactically benefactive argument.


David S. Rood
Dept. of Linguistics
Univ. of Colorado
295 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0295
rood at

On Tue, 16 Nov 2004, REGINA PUSTET wrote:

> What I'm wondering now is what the scope of the phenomenon is, lexically
> speaking, i.e. how many verbs behave like this. In fact, it now occurs
> to me that ic'i-forms are the ONLY forms that I have managed to elicit
> so far when benefactive reflexives were at issue. The other thing that
> comes to my mind is that some verbs, among these k'u 'give', when the
> benefactive (no matter if reflexive or not) is expressed, never combine
> with the benefactive person markers, but rather, with plain patient
> ('object') forms. Such as:
> mní       wichá-k'u-pi
> water    3PL.PAT-give-PL
> 'they give them water'
> So if I have, by some incredible accident, elicited my benefactive
> reflexives by means of such verbs only so far, the natural explanation
> for the occurrence of patient-like looking benefactive reflexives would
> be that the verbs in question are special in that they ALWAYS mark
> benefactives with patient markers. But I doubt that this is the case.
> I'll check it out.
>  Regina
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