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A verb that requires an adverb?

From:Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 20:41
I'm revisiting a conlang idea I last played around with just over a year ago.
(Klatu, a contact language between humans and intelligent robots long ago in a
galaxy far, far away.) As I translate sentences from McGuffey's reader, and
other graded lists of sentences, I needed a verb for the English "to treat",
but only in the sense of describing one's behavior toward the object of the
verb. Thus the verb would be used as in "He treated the dynamite carefully."
but not in sentences like "The doctor treated the patient." or "I treated James
to a hot fudge sundae." The meaning of my new verb had to be restricted only to
the first sense of the English "to treat".

But consider these:

"He lifted the dynamite carefully." vs. "He lifted the dynamite."


"He treated the dynamite carefully." vs "He treated the dynamite."

In the first pair, the verb "lifted" means exactly the same thing in both sentences.

In the second pair the sentence without the adverb only makes sense if we expand
the meaning of "to treat" from the restricted sense intended in the conlang
(Klatu) equivalent. In other words, by removing the adverb the actual meaning
of the verb is altered from "behaved in the manner specified" to something like
"applied some treatment to". In my Klatu equivalent, the second sentence would
be meaningless, because the verb "to treat" absolutely requires an adverb (or
an adverbial phrase as in "He treated the puppy with love.").

Being a retired computer geek, and not being a linguist, by any stretch of the
imagination, am I analyzing this correctly? Is "gently" in "He treated the
dynamite gently." truly an adverb? I can't think of what else it might be. And
does the phrase "with kindness" then perform the same role as an adverb in "He
treated the kitten with kindness."? The reason I'm wondering is that I can move
the adverb around:

"He lifted the dynamite gently." -> "He gently lifted the dynamite."

But neither of these seems right:

"He gently treated the dynamite."
"He with kindness treated the kitten."

In those two cases the adverb (or phrase) is still present, but moving it seems
to me to have also altered the fundamental meaning of "to treat" back to the
"apply a treatment" sense and away from the "behavior toward" sense.

"He treated the dynamite gently." -> "He treated the dynamite gently with a
solution of copper sulfate."
"He gently treated the dynamite." -> "He gently treated the dynamite with a
solution of copper sulfate."

In the first pair the addition of "with a solution..." seems to fundamentally
change the meaning of "to treat".
In the second pair that same addition seems to NOT alter the fundamental meaning of "to treat".

I'm sure I'm making this more complicated than it needs to be, but it's important
that Klatu not inherit hidden ambiguities from English, like the shift in
actual meaning that happens to a verb when an adverb is added or moved.

Are there other verbs whose meaning is fundamentally altered by attaching or moving an adverb?



Lars Mathiesen <thorinn@...>