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"do" captures agent+subject

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 17, 2004, 12:33
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. -- It was dreary and wearisome. Cold clammy winter still held way in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long-forgotten summers. --"The Passage of the Marshes"


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Roger Mills <romilly@...>