# Thread: need explaining

1. M56 Guest

## Re: need explaining

Then, 'my dog' and 'you' are the agents, right? They do the process:>

The dog-walker will be AGENT and the dog, the one experiencing the action. "Walking" is figurative here - or a least delexicalised.

<[1] I need my dog walking.
My dog is to be out and walking.
You are to walk my dog.
=> The dog-walker will be "walking" the dog.>

2. M56 Guest

## Re: need explaining

Originally Posted by Casiopea

Temico has a valid point. Having said that, why is it then that our example below does not express the meaning, 'my shirts are to be doing the ironing?

I need my shirts ironing.

The question we should be asking is, why aren't inanimate objects; i.e., my shirts, privy to the same semantic freedoms as animate objects; i.e., my dog, you, Max?

Logic?

And:

"Walking" is delexicalised in "I need my dog out and walking by six". The meaning on not as with the lexical verb "walk", otherwise one could not allow the dog to run, fetch a ball, sniff lamposts, etc, while on the walk.

Indirect forms:

"I need my dog out and walking by six".
"My dog should be out and walking by six".
etc.

Direct form:

You (agent) will have my dog (receiver) out and walking by six.

3. ## Re: need explaining

Finally. We made it to "roles". Let's talk about thematic roles, then. In [1], 'my shirts', you say, is the <experiencer>: it experiences the event 'ironing', whereas an implied <actor>, I add, is to be ironing the shirts, as indicated in [2].

[1] I need my shirts ironing.
[2] I need someone to be ironing my shirts.

Example sentence [2] is another way of stating [1]. Now watch what happens when 'to be' is omitted, which is what we expect given the other similar forms in the grammar, notably, I need my shirts to be ironed => I need my shirts ironed.

[3] ?I need to be ironing my shirts. (this is not a variation of [1])
[4] ?I need ironing my shirts. (this is not English syntax)
[5] I need my shirts ironing. (metathesis: switch the word-order around)

'my shirts' remains the experiencer in [5], but 'ironing', a present participle, becomes a modifier.

What was the question, again? I seem to have lost track of what you were asking.

4. M56 Guest

## Re: need explaining

I know you are interested in this topic, but I would advise not trying too hard to force standard grammar rules onto such, clearly, spoken and regional items.

Here, for example, you make a strange leap:

<[1] I need my shirts ironing.
[2] I need someone to be ironing my shirts.

Example sentence [2] is another way of stating [1]. Now watch what happens when 'to be' is omitted, which is what we expect given the other similar forms in the grammar, notably, I need my shirts to be ironed => I need my shirts ironed.>

You omit not only "to be", but also "someone", which is not what your sentence, now in red, suggests.

<[3] ?I need to be ironing my shirts. (this is not a variation of [1])
[4] ?I need ironing my shirts. (this is not English syntax)
[5] I need my shirts ironing. (metathesis: switch the word-order around)>

You missed this one:

I need someone ironing my shirts.

Which is the same as:

I need someone waiting for the general manager when he arrives.

There, we have actually omitted "to be".

<'my shirts' remains the experiencer in [5], but 'ironing', a present participle, becomes a modifier.>

<I need my shirts ironing.>

What does it modify, for you? To me, there is a split - not allowed in standard English, but permitted in certain regional use - between need and ironing. That gap is filled with "my shirts". So it's not "the ironing shirts", it is "I need ironing done"

5. ## Re: need explaining

Originally Posted by M56
To me, there is a split - not allowed in standard English, but permitted in certain regional use - between need and ironing. That gap is filled with "my shirts". So it's not "the ironing shirts", it is "I need ironing done"
OK, so how do speakers use that "rule" to create novel utterances? Temico pointed out that ?"I need my son spanking" doesn't work in the same way as "I need my shirts ironing", which tells us that animate objects, like 'my son', 'you', and 'Max' don't work in that context. If I want to use the structure you've shown us, how should I use it; i.e., what is the rule or rules? Please note, every language, even idiolect, and regional variation has rules, both standard and non-standard.

In short, here's what I am hoping to gain from this discussion, what's the rule, or rather how do speakers use "I need X -ing?"

6. M56 Guest

## Re: need explaining

Originally Posted by Casiopea
OK, so how do speakers use that "rule" to create novel utterances? Temico pointed out that ?"I need my son spanking" doesn't work in the same way as "I need my shirts ironing", which tells us that animate objects, like 'my son', 'you', and 'Max' don't work in that context. If I want to use the structure you've shown us, how should I use it; i.e., what is the rule or rules? Please note, every language, even idiolect, and regional variation has rules, both standard and non-standard.

In short, here's what I am hoping to gain from this discussion, what's the rule, or rather how do speakers use "I need X -ing?"
Temico hasn't shown us anything. There are lots of sentences in both standard and nonstandard English were the structure in each is parallel to the another, but the semantics are different.

Take:

The report is waiting on your desk.
A prescripitivist is waiting in your office.

We all know that, in normal-worlds, reports cannot wait, so how do we resolve the use in the sentence above? We use logic. Same in:

I need my shirt ironing.
I need my son spanking.

We know that son's can be spanked or give a spank to another person. Likewise, we know that a shirt can be ironed, but not give ironing to another object or itself.

The semantic and pragmatic "rule" is based on understanding the use of figurative speech and avoiding being explicit. The syntactic rule is as it is: noun/pronoun + need/want/desire (more formal), etc. + possessive pron. + noun phrase (obj.) + verb/gerund..

Laters.
Last edited by M56; 14-Sep-2005 at 13:16.

7. ## Re: need explaining

Originally Posted by M56
Temico hasn't shown us anything.
Temico points out, and I hope you don't mind my using your words ". . ." to reiterate the point,

"We know that [sons] can be spanked or give a spank[ing] to another person. Likewise, we know that a shirt can be ironed, but not give ironing to another object or itself", but given the constructs,

"I need my shirts ironing"
"I need my son spanking"

how do we "teach" non-native speakers to recognize that the son is to experience the spanking and not the one giving "a spanking to another person"? It's not a mute point.

I've a question of my own: Do the following differ in meaning or is the noun phrase 'my son' both the actor and the experiencer?

Experiencer: I need my son walking.
Agent: I need my son walking.

Originally Posted by M56
The syntactic rule is as it is: noun/pronoun + need/want/desire (more formal), etc. + possessive pron. + noun phrase (obj.) + verb/gerund.
'verb/gerund'? Hmm. Is walking a verb/gerund? I thought it was a participle functioning as an adjective.

At this point, it's probably best we agree to disagree.

Thanks for the fun.
Looking forward to your next post.

All the best,

8. M56 Guest

## Re: need explaining

<[QUOTE=Casiopea]Temico points out, and I hope you don't mind my using your words ". . ." to reiterate the point,>

This is what Temico said:

How should that be taken to mean? Does it mean that "my son" needs spanking or does it mean that "my son" needs to go about spanking others??
………………….

What has that got to do with "My son needs spanking"?

Well, it's certainly the father's opinion too, don't you agree??>>>

<"We know that [sons] can be spanked or give a spank[ing] to another person. >

Or can crave spanking re: "needs" in "My son needs spanking".

<<Likewise, we know that a shirt can be ironed, but not give ironing to another object or itself
", but given the constructs,

"I need my shirts ironing"
"I need my son spanking"

how do we "teach" non-native speakers to recognize that the son is to experience the spanking and not the one giving "a spanking to another person"? It's not a mute point.>>

Teach them that many, many sentences are oftem ambiguous when decontextualised. Teach them that the decontextualised sentence is often not a suitable guide to when searcing for total meaning. Teach them sentences in context.

<I've a question of my own: Do the following differ in meaning or is the noun phrase 'my son' both the actor and the experiencer?

Experiencer: I need my son walking.
Agent: I need my son walking.>

Could you provide more context and cotext?

<'verb/gerund'? Hmm. Is walking a verb/gerund? I thought it was a participle functioning as an adjective.>

So you read it as "I want a walking son"?

<At this point, it's probably best we agree to disagree. >

Why so? have you reached your limit?

<All the best, >

To you too.

9. M56 Guest

## Re: need explaining

Can I just say that it is rather odd to posts this:

<I've a question of my own:...>

and then announce that you are leaving the discussion for good.

10. ## Re: need explaining

If you'd like, sure. Let's carry on. I'm still very interested in what you have to say.

Originally Posted by M56
Teach them that many, many sentences are oftem ambiguous when decontextualised. Teach them that the decontextualised sentence is often not a suitable guide to when searching for total meaning. Teach them sentences in context.
I agree. Somewhat confused though, but not disillusioned. This discussion opened with decontexualized I need X -ing.

Originally Posted by M56
Could you provide more context and cotext?
OK. Let's try this another way, shall we? Is "I need my son walking" ambiguous, are there two ways of reading it? The reason I'm asking, 'son walking' is not a grammatical structure in my dialect of English, so I am unable to grasp its meaning, but I am willing to try. That's why I'm asking so many questions. I'm not trying to argue with you or play the devil's advocate. I'm trying to communicate with you. I sincerely wish you'd teach me about that structure so that I may teach others about it.

Originally Posted by M56
So you read it as "I want a walking son"?
Wow, interesting twist. OK, could you show me how the verb/gerund construct works?

Page 5 of 7 First 1234567 Last

#### Posting Permissions

• You may not post new threads
• You may not post replies
• You may not post attachments
• You may not edit your posts
•

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1