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Re: "do" captures agent+subject

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 13:14

John Cowan <cowan@...> writes:
> Henrik Theiling scripsit: > > > Peter dries. > > Peter falls. > > Peter sneezes. > > Peter speaks. > > Peter runs. > > > > In English, you could argue that for each of these sentences, the > > answer to the question 'What does Peter *do*?' is the verb. But this > > is simply because Peter is the subject of each of these sentences and > > by asking for the doer, you ask for the subject. > > I don't agree. "The Wicked Witch of the West melts" is a sentence whose > subject is the WWotW, but as an answer to "What does the WWotW do?" it > is not felicitous. "What does X do?" marks X as both subject and agent, > and if either is not true, it doesn't work.
Really? Interesting! Then there is a difference between German and English: Die Hexe schmilzt. Was tut die Hexe? Schmelzen. Even with 'machen', it works, although 'machen' seems to imply a higher degree of own action, so when thinkning about it, this might start to seem strange: Was macht die Hexe? Schmelzen. But this is even better for my explanation: even in closely related languages, asking for 'What does X do' might yields different results. In the original posting I just wanted to stress that it is not very exact to define case assignment by this means. What about snow? The snow is melting. What is the snow doing? Would you answer: 'Well, nothing, of course.' or 'It is melting.'? I'm asking because snow, in contrast to witches, is seldom an agent so the question might work diffently on it. :-) *Henrik


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Joe <joe@...>