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Sundry thoughts (was: Re: THEORY nouns and cases)

From:Douglas Koller, Latin & French <latinfrench@...>
Date:Thursday, April 29, 2004, 19:18
John writes:

>ObDigression: Anna Weetabix
Isn't this a cracker?
>claims, with what accuracy I don't know, >that this concept does not exist in Russian (nor does the concept of >"white lie");
My native informant says that "white lie" does not exist, but she does say that "agree to disagree" is possible with the same meaning as in English.
>OTOH, English interlocutors can express agreement in >varying intensities from "I entirely agree" to simply "Right", whereas >"I entirely disagree" and "Wrong" are conversationally impossible. >Not so in Russian, where the negatives are as usable as the positives.
Well, "entirely" is weird, but it's possible to imagine contexts where "I completely disagree" or "I totally disagree" would work. Likewise, "See ya, Mom. I'm off to the movies and'll be back at 1:00AM." "Wrrrronnng!" ("Wrongo" sounds better, I guess.)
>Anyhow, "ba" does not merely front the direct object: it also carries >specific semantics, those of "disposal". If the direct object is not >disposed of, "ba" is inapplicable.
Does "ba" really "front" the direct object? To be sure, it brings it closer to the head of the sentence, but doesn't necessarily afford the emphasis I normally assocoiate with fronted direct objects. For that, you can actually *front* a direct object in Chinese by topicalizing it: Bingqilin wo xihuan, pingguopai wo bu xihuan. Ice cream, I like; apple pie, I don;t like. but I don't feel any particular emphasis in: Ba men shuanqilai. Bolt the door. Which brings us to the word "disposal". I was going to respectfully beg to differ, but after consulting the all-knowing Li & Thompson (which, I presume, is where you got the term from), I see it's used in the sense of "dispatch with", perhaps. I never thought of it that way. I thought of it as the way you handle expressions with resultative verbs (ba liwu baoqilai - wrap a present). Objects after resultative verbs sound really clunky to my ear. I suppose resultative verbs deal with "dispatching" or "disposing of" direct objects. L & T also talk about "ba" indicating how we feel about the direct object in context (and I didn't read the *entire* entry during my morning ablutions), but I didn't get a specific sense of emphasis. Kou