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  1. #1
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    What can and cannot be an indirect or direct object and why?

    We can say "Pass the salad bowl to Claudia" and we can say "Pass Claudia the salad bowl".

    We can say "Hang the picture on the wall", but we cannot say "Hang the wall the picture".

    The "wall" can't function as an indirect object in the same way that Claudia can, yet both sentences use the same pattern.

    Pass Claudia the salad bowl. - Hang the wall the picture.
    Last edited by PROESL; 13-Aug-2009 at 05:59.

  2. #2
    cesard is offline Newbie
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    Re: What can and cannot be an indirect or direct object and why?

    "hang the wall the picture" doesn't make sense.But how recognize the O.D. and the O.I? By using "to"?

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Re: What can and cannot be an indirect or direct object and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    The "wall" can't function as an indirect object in the same way that Claudia can ...
    It can if you choose your verb well.
    Give the salad to Claudia. Give Claudia the salad.
    Give a new coat of paint to the wall. Give the wall a new coat of paint.

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    orangutan is offline Member
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    Re: What can and cannot be an indirect or direct object and why?

    Generally indirect objects are associated with thematic roles such as "recipient" or "beneficiary". Simple "location" or "goal" (of movement) are not enough.

    Well known example:

    She sent a package to her mother. (recipient)
    -->
    She sent her mother a package.

    She sent a package to the border. (goal of motion)
    -->
    * She sent the border a package.
    (not acceptable unless the border can somehow be reconstrued as recipient)

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    Smile Re: What can and cannot be an indirect or direct object and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    Generally indirect objects are associated with thematic roles such as "recipient" or "beneficiary". Simple "location" or "goal" (of movement) are not enough.

    Well known example:

    She sent a package to her mother. (recipient)
    -->
    She sent her mother a package.

    She sent a package to the border. (goal of motion)
    -->
    * She sent the border a package.
    (not acceptable unless the border can somehow be reconstrued as recipient)
    Thanks for posting this example.


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    Re: What can and cannot be an indirect or direct object and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    It can if you choose your verb well.
    Give the salad to Claudia. Give Claudia the salad.
    Give a new coat of paint to the wall. Give the wall a new coat of paint.
    Good example. Thanks for posting it. It's interesting to see how grammar is governed not just by structural rules, but also by how we understand things and the meaning of verbs.


  7. #7
    cabledetached is offline Newbie
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    Re: What can and cannot be an indirect or direct object and why?

    I think Raymott and orangutan are both right. I think it has to do with the selectional and argument-assigning properties of the verb. In their literal (non-idiomatic) usage, the so-called giving verbs (e.g. give, pass, supply, lend, etc.) generally assign the recipient thematic role to one of their arguments, and a 'recipient' is generally a sentient entity. So you don't usually have non-sentient indirect objects (thematic recipients) with these types of verbs.

    In Give the wall a new coat of paint, the verb usage is idiomatic and the condition doesn't apply. Strictly speaking, you don't actually give anything to the wall; you paint it. (The wall is assigned the patient argument, not the recipient). Compare with:
    Give the car a wax job.

    Interstingly, recipients can optionally be realized as objects of the preposition "to":
    I gave John an apple.
    I gave an apple to John.
    Patient arguments, on the other hand, do not have that option:
    I gave my shoes a good shine.
    * I gave a good shine to my shoes.

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    orangutan is offline Member
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    Re: What can and cannot be an indirect or direct object and why?

    "Give" with double object, while not losing its intuitive lexical meaning, is also something of an abstract template, which I think underlies some of these seemingly idiomatic extensions. It generally works to think of its abstract meaning as "cause to have". (There may be exceptions.) Thus the wall can "have" a fresh coat of paint, and shoes can have a good shine. What can be a possessor (in whatever sense) can normally also be a recipient.

    It is interesting, as Cabledetached points out, that such cases do not accept the construction with "to" - I would guess because there is no idea of motion (or transfer of possession) involved.

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