dative uses (was Re: Prescriptive Linguists)

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 31 18:20:17 UTC 2008

On Jan 31, 2008 10:52 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:

> Of course what makes it tricky is that the dative here is not the
> recipient but the benefactive, but that's also true of "build" and
> "buy", among other verbs.  What makes the "Mary" example ("Which car
> did you put Mary in the garage?") so much more out there (but not, I
> would submit, gibberish to those speakers on the right side of the
> relevant isogloss) is that "Mary" is neither an argument of the verb
> (unlike the "you" of the *pawn* example) nor a subject-indexing
> pronoun (unlike the "him" of the Jack Daniels example).  It's much
> closer to the "ethical dative" that we get in German, French, Hebrew,
> and many other languages.

I would distinguish "build" and "buy" from "pawn". The first two don't
(can't?) have dative arguments distinct from benefactives, while "pawn" can.

The song as I learned it has "If my woman says no, I won't railroad no more
/ Sidetrack that main line and go home", not "If you say so..." as in the
text I quoted from Mudcat/DigiTrad, and there's no context that indicates
that the addressee is anyone in particular. So in the relevant lines --
>I will pawn you my watch, I will pawn you my chain
>Pawn you my gold diamond ring.
-- I interpreted "you" as a dative -- addressed (apostrophized) to a
pawnbroker, or to another listener with about the same meaning minus the
pawnbroker's license and shop. That's not a "tricky example" in the way you
describe, which does apply for Woody's words and the Mary example. (And for
me, the original Mary example was also further obscured by the Wh-movement.)

m a m

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