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Re: 'together vs. to gather'

From:Muke Tever <hotblack@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 20, 2004, 2:15
E fésto Roger Mills <romilly@...>:
> Muke Tever wrote: >> E fésto Doug Dee <AmateurLinguist@...>: >> >> 3) They don't require plural subjects anyway. "Water gathers in >> these >> >> puddles," "The congregation disperses immediately after the preacher >> >> finishes." >> > >> > The last example misses (what I take to be) the point of this thread, >> > because although "the congregation" is not morphologically plural or >> > (necessarily) syntactically plural, it is what you might call >> > "semantically plural." >> >> That actually _is_ my point. It's entirely semantic, and the choice of >> subject for the verb has nothing to do with the grammar. > > But it does. (Or choice of object, in the case of a trans.verb)-- > Sometimes there _is_ an overlap between semantics and syntax; some > semantic features of the noun can be specified in the syntactic features > of the verb-- for example "kick" must have a +-animate agent. (But it is > probably a matter of _semantics_ that the +-anim. noun must also have > "leg/foot etc." somewhere in its definition.)
I think that's just a matter of pragmatics. The core definition of "kick" denotes a foot as instrument (and possibly a leg as fulcrum). It just happens that inanimates tend to lack feet. Note in extended senses of the verb, there isnt any trace of animacy requirements: e.g. 'kick' is synonymous to 'recoil'; breath is also said to kick. Conversely: "Of course it was Jack. The beanstalk didn't kick me." [i.e., agency in the verb doesnt require that the action actually be taken.]
> In standard usage, f*ck requires animate male and female participants; > anything else requires additional context. (There's a wide-ranging > discussion of this verb in "Studies out in left field".)
[Arguably, the gender of the participants is immaterial...] I think this is also pragmatic. It looks like it requires animates for gxddbov because that is something usually only animates do. Whatever else it may be, it's not an offense against syntax or semantics to say that one saw a sculpture of two kitchen chairs gxddbov.
> So there is no reason why one of the arguments of a verb might not also > be specified [+-plural].
I dont think that it's impossible... I just dont think any of the examples so far fit that description.
>> "Scatter" is synonymous to 'disperse' anyway, but note that its close >> cognate "shatter" has no such restriction on number-- > > True, but _somewhere_ in the semantic specification of "shatter" there > must be the information that the object is brittle/breakable; also, that > the result of shattering is "more than one piece". But one of its > syntactic > features is that the DO/patient must be [-animate]
I'm not sure if it means anything to say that the object of "shatter" must be shatterable, anymore than, say, the object of "break" must be breakable or the object of "eat" edible. (I suppose that's pragmatics again. You don't generally talk about shattering something unshatterable, but nothing prevents "He tried to shatter the model, but found it was made of rubber".) As for animacy, I don't see what's wrong with, say, "an eagle shattering a turtle on the rocks below" etc.
>> and is, incidentally, >> a pretty good indication of what 'scatter' or 'disperse' with a singular >> subject means. I think, actually, that it is basically a question of >> usage--scattering a singular has a different effect from scattering a >> plural, though I don't think there's any trouble in running a golf ball >> through a smasher and scattering it[!] around the living room. > > Special context again! You can't scatter/disperse it until you've > reduced it to _many_ parts.
In this case, certainly. But scattering and dispersal are *acts* of reducing something (which may or may not be a singular mass) into many parts. *Muke! -- E jer savne zarjé mas ne Se imné koone'f metha Brissve mé kolé adâ.