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LS15. Giving and given

Languid SlogWe finish off declaratives that use the present/continuous forms of give and also look at passives.  Most of the possible sentences are listed.  Not all are analysed but there’s enough information for a keen reader to try filling the gaps.

Actives completed

Here are the ways the Nero is giving… scenario can be expressed as an active declarative:

(5) Nero is giving Olivia to Poppaea

(7) Nero is giving Olivia

(8) Nero is giving to Poppaea Olivia

(17) Nero is giving to Poppaea

(18) Nero is giving

(9) To Poppaea Nero is giving Olivia

(10) To Poppaea Nero is giving

(13) Olivia Nero is giving to Poppaea

(19) Olivia Nero is giving

(20) Nero is giving Poppaea Olivia

(14) Poppaea Nero is giving Olivia

We’ve already seen most of them.  (7) and (8) appeared before the tabular presentation was improved in LS14, but only minor changes are required.  (19) is a shortened version of (13) with OLIVIA consolidated as THEME at sentence-end.  Showing these here would be tedious.

Double-object construction

The DO has already been touched on.  Sentence (14) showed fronting of GOAL as a bare noun rather than a preposition as in (9).  The unfronted DO version is (20):

This has the ‘enigmatic’ interaction between identical splits of activation for POPPAEA and for OLIVIA seen in (14).  The outcome could be accounted for by incoming propositions displacing existing ones – perhaps because activation of the latter is slightly decayed.  If that were so, then the four units on GIVE / THEME / OLIVIA would trump GIVE / THEME / POPPAEA and lead to the right result:

Languid Slog

Passives listed

There are even more passive sentences to express the scenario:

(11) Olivia is given to Poppaea by Nero

(21) Olivia is given to Poppaea

(22) Olivia is given by Nero to Poppaea

(23) Olivia is given by Nero

(24) Olivia is given

(25) By Nero Olivia is given to Poppaea

(26) By Nero Olivia is given

(27) To Poppaea Olivia is given by Nero

(28) To Poppaea Olivia is given

(12) Poppaea is given Olivia by Nero

(29) Poppaea is given Olivia

(30) Poppaea is given by Nero Olivia

(31) To Poppaea is given Olivia by Nero

(32) To Poppaea is given Olivia

(33) To Poppaea is given by Nero Olivia

(34) By Nero is given Olivia to Poppaea

(35) By Nero is given Olivia

(36) By Nero is given to Poppaea Olivia

(37) By Nero to Poppaea is given Olivia

(38) By Nero Poppaea is given Olivia

(15) Olivia Poppaea is given by Nero

(39) Olivia Poppaea is given

Many of these types of sentence are unlikely to be found anywhere except in verse.  But all can be appropriately analysed in NG.  (That’s not necessarily a good thing: a syntactician might argue that NG is over-generating.)  I’ll only show tables for interesting ones but you should be able to infer what happens in any of the others.

First, some principles need to be established.

Bare necessities

The noticeable thing above is that, whereas give actives can have three bare nouns or two plus a preposition phrase, give passives can have two Ns plus one PP or one N and two PPs.

As we’ve seen, a PP is easy to deal with because its role in the sentence is explicit in the preposition.  That’s why, with two PPs, a bigger variety of passive sentences can be understood.

As seen in LS14, the complication with passives is bare nouns preceding the verb.  Even a single noun is initially ambiguous: see sentences (11) and (12).  However the complication is similar to the situation after the verb in active sentences.  The tactics for keeping options open in double-object actives can also be used for passives.

(11) Olivia is given to Poppaea by Nero

(12) Poppaea is given Olivia by Nero

Dubious sentences

Sentences (15) and (16) appeared in LS14:

(15) Olivia Poppaea is given by Nero

(16) * Poppaea Olivia is given by Nero

Logically no more than one of these can be grammatical.  Sentence (15) was preferred.  Its analysis is:

As discussed above, nouns are allocated to THEME and GOAL, but here from the opening Y X is… sequence.  The second noun processed trumps the second in the sentence.  (The distinction between ‘incoming’ and ‘existing’ is blurred.)

(15) corresponds to the orthodox view of fronting as movement – in this case from sentence (12).  But many would question its acceptability.  It’s interesting that it has an unconvincing analysis and that the analysis might easily flip (the first noun processed trumping the first in the sentence) to give the alternative reading.

This mutability is shown better by equivalent sentences with inanimate THEME:

(40) ? Money Poppaea is given by Nero

(41) ? Poppaea money is given by Nero

Semantics now helps to identify THEME, making both sentences comprehensible.

Coming soon

So, grammaticality in NG is not always black-and-white.  We’ll meet shades-of-grey again, notably when looking at who-interrogatives a few weeks hence.

Meantime we have to look at verbs without auxiliary, at ditransitives with double-object or to-dative but not both, at imperatives and at other types of interrogative.

Mr Nice-Guy

 

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