Ethical dative (was: Question about transitivity etc.)
|From:||John Cowan <cowan@...>|
|Date:||Monday, June 2, 2003, 11:49|
Christophe Grandsire scripsit:
> And I'm not talking about those "inclusion of the listener" forms frequent
> in colloquial speech like "... et je te lui ai flanqué une sacrée raclée
> !", where "te" has no function in the sentence except conviviality :))
> (strangely enough, Basque is the only other language I know which has the
> same feature).
Actually, it's common in the world's languages. Latin had it, e.g.:
at tibi repente venit mihi Cani:nius
but you-DAT suddenly comes-3SG-PRES-IND me-DAT Cani:nius-NOM
where "tibi" does not literally mean that Caninius comes to the speaker
*for the listener's benefit*, but simply that the listener is thought
to be concerned in the action somehow. This is the so-called "ethical
dative" (Gk. _ethikos_ 'character'), and can occur with all persons:
quid mihi Celsus agit
what-ACC me-DAT Celsus-NOM does-3SG-PRES-IND
similarly does not mean "What is Celsus doing for me?" but simply
"What is Celsus doing?", with the "mihi" expressing the speaker's
interest in the answer. Third-person examples exist but tend not to
be as clear.
The ethical dative occurs in a wide variety of other languages as well:
German: Er ist *mir* ein guter Freund = he is a good friend of mine.
Middle English: Thus me pileth the pore, that is of lute pris = Thus
they rob the poor ("me" shows the speaker's concern about it),
who are of little worth.
Early Modern English: There are more things in heaven and earth
than are dreamed of in *your* philosophy (Hamlet to Horatio).
Spanish: Juan *me* le arruin'o la vida a esa chica. = Juan ruined the
life of this girl (speaker concern again).
Classical Greek: *emoi* dh ou crh oupoute tauta poihsai = *IMHO* one
never ought to do that. :-)
I have also found references to its use in Polish, Czech, Estonian,
Romanian, Ingush, and Warlpiri.
Henry S. Thompson said, / "Syntactic, structural, John Cowan
Value constraints we / Express on the fly." firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon St. Laurent: "Your / Incomprehensible http://www.reutershealth.com
Abracadabralike / schemas must die!" http://www.ccil.org/~cowan