Lead (someone) a merry dance

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Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by dante » Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:12 pm

Ah, I've now found the source you quote, dante, for 'the prepositioning of home':
I first linked to the source and then gave the quote Edwin :)
This (in bold) would seem to be a mistake; if Paco is to be believed, it is the accusative form, which we ought to render to-home, say, of Old English that lost its distinguishableness from home, so home is not a preposition but a disguised prepositional phrase when not used as a noun.
For all I know about accusative case, and we have one in Serbian, Paco is not to be believed on that one. I'm sure that he mixed up things there.
Accusative in Serbian (and I strongly believe any other language with noun cases) is an inflection of the noun (in Serbian there's a clear and simple morphological pattern for how the noun is inflected) the purpose of which is to indicate the direct object (on the sentence level), or the object of a preposition (on the phrasal level). Forms of the pronouns: me, him, her, us, them, and "whom" are possible indicators that the accusative case might have been used more extensively in English in the past, but I can't say if that really was the case. In:

I went home.

the question that would pop up in the listener's mind if you stopped at "I went.." would certainly be "where?" and not "Whom?" or "What?" .

Here's a test for objects suggested in "A-Z English grammar and usage" by Geoffrey Leech:
p300 1b) Another way of telling if a word is an object is to ask yourself the following question:
Does it answer a question with this pattern?

What/Which/Who(m) + auxiliary + subject + main verb
Sure that the test is not hundred percent reliable but one can imagine that most of the time those questions will elicit an object in a sentence. I guess that one could say that the same apply for using "where" to elicit an adjunct of place in the sentence.

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:35 pm


if Paco is to be believed, it is the accusative form, which we ought to render to-home, say, of Old English that lost its distinguishableness from home, so home is not a preposition but a disguised prepositional phrase when not used as a noun.

You reply:

For all I know about accusative case, and we have one in Serbian, Paco is not to be believed on that one. I'm sure that he mixed up things there.

Paco cites the OED as his source, claiming it contains the second paragraph below:

...the phrase "go home" originated in Old English where every noun retained its cases. Some nouns in accusative case were used often as directional adverbs. "Home" in "go home" is a relic of such usage (of "home" in its accusative case) as an adverbial. About this, the Oxford English Dictionary reads thus:
The accusative "home" retains its original use after a verb of motion, as in "to go or come home" (= L. ire, venire domum); but as this construction is otherwise obsolete in the language, "home" so used is treated practically as an adverb, and has developed purely adverbial uses.

[I had to tidy Paco's writing.]

Of course, if you find this is NOT from the OED, I'll listen to you.
If it IS, you're arguing against a rather weighty authority.

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:35 am

Edwin said:

a walk - semantically not an object (one can't go anything, within the normal requirements of transitivity).
Again, the construction almost certainly arises from the elision of the preposition for (on connotes more organisation, and wouldn't be dropped). It's interesting that go a drive and, less often, go a journey and go a hike also crop up; go a swim and go a trip have Google backing but I'd not come across them; go a sail and go a cruise are getting rarer, and go a climb, go a jog, and go an abseil are distinctly unpopular.
.. Edwin I don't know if it helps but in Aus we can also say ..

I could go a pie/beer/drink/burger.

.. or in fact any food .. however the implicit emphasis in this usage is one of dire need to exactly satisfy what one feels like .. It can extend to an expression such as ..

I could go a shower.

.. however this would be used again in a situation of exact need such as having just finished mowing the lawn in the middle of summer and being extremely hot and sweaty ..but I must admit that I have not heard your example of go a walk ..

.. I tried to think of other Aus examples of headed bush but could only come up with headed north/south/east/west ..

WoZ who likes to go bush
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by dante » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:51 pm

After reading a bit on this, it seems that Paco's quote applies to Old English. In Slavic languages, including Serbian, the dative case is used to indicate "motion towards" http://www.lztranslation.com/pdf/serbia ... e-case.pdf:
In addition to being used with verbs that take indirect objects, the dative case
may be used with motion verbs (verbs of going). The meaning of the dative
case here is to express the idea of seeing or visiting a place or person
, as
seen in examples in Table 4.

Table 4: Some examples of dative nouns with motion verbs

Serbian English

Ja idem kući. I’m going home.
Oni su otišli svojim kućama. They went to their (respective) homes.

The dative case is also used as an object of some prepositions:
• prepositions: k, ka, and prema ‘towards, to’, indicating a direction or course of
movement or action.
The accusative case is also used to indicate that you are "going to some place" only focusing on the goal or the destination of the motion instead of focusing on the direction, which is what the dative is used for. Here's a nice explanation http://www.studyserbian.com/proba/Gramm ... e_Case.asp
Prepositions: u ‘in’, na ‘on/at’, po ‘by, through’, za ‘for’, pred ‘in front’, nad ‘above, over’, pod ‘under’, među ‘among’, uz ‘alongside, by, upward,up’, niz ‘downward, down’, kroz ‘through’. When used with these prepositions, the accusative case indicates the destination or goal of a movement or action expressed by a verb (examples 1-10) or it indicates time duration (examples 11-13).
In Old English and Latin, to indicate that you are "moving towards" the noun (entity the noun stands for) , you will inflect that noun the same way you inflect nouns to indicate that they're affected by the action of the verb, which means put it in the accusative case. Since the accusative in Old English is the same form as the nominative no actual inflection is done, but the form of the noun still reflects the syntactic position. I've found it explained in plain terms here http://acunix.wheatonma.edu/mdrout/gram ... Cases.html :
Accusative: The direct object case, the accusative is used to indicate direct receivers of an action. The accusative case also indicates "motion towards," can be the object of a preposition such as "to," and can indicate the passage of time.

Dative / Instrumental: The indirect object and prepositional case, the dative/instrumental is used to indicate indirect receivers of action and objects of prepositions. The dative is also used to indicate the locations of non-moving objects (locative dative) and the instrumental identifies things that are being used ("instruments").
What seems very important to me here is to note that any case is used to indicate one prominent, primary meaning, whatever the language. For example, you would associate accusative with "affected" and dative with "recipient", although there are other meanings indicated by either case. As a linguistic layman I can't say if the same morphological inflection of nouns, used to indicate different meanings, as the accusative, for example, is used to indicate "receiver of an action" and "motion towards", means that people were in short supply of letters to invent more different endings for nouns to express those meanings, or that they found those meanings related some way, on a metaphysical level at least. Whatever the answer to this question is, the fact is obviously that to say that you're moving towards something or someone, you would inflect the noun to the accusative in Old English and Latin, but to the dative case in Slavic languages. Of course, it is only meaningful to make this comparison having in mind the primary meanings of the dative and accusative case - "recipient" and "affected" respectively. "Locative" and "Instrumental ", mentioned in the quote as meanings of dative in Latin are separate cases in Serbian.

Anyway, English obviously prefers to have various source and direction prepositions in between the verb and the source/goal/destination to make clear where something or someone is headed or comes from. Serbian will use either prepositions (more often, just as English) or inflected form of the noun to indicate direction.

I'm going home.

Idem kući.

The noun "kuća" is inflected to the dative case form "kući" to mark directional reading.

I've noticed that this subject is pretty complex and branches off whenever you think you've come at any valid conclusion :) Things are becoming more complex when you take into account other verbs and idiomatic combinations like "hit the place" :

The President hits town tomorrow.

I only hit the gym twice a week these days.

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:53 pm

dante, you say:

After reading a bit on this, it seems that Paco's quote applies to Old English.

The clue was in the third line of Paco's offering:

This sort of construct comes from an Old English grammar rule

However, thank you for the informative analogies from Serbian.
And it's reassuring to hear you say, "I've noticed that this subject is pretty complex..."
It's what keeps Professors of Linguistics in their jobs. And at each other's throats. And us poor laymen confused, but trying to understand. But the Professors can't all be right, and if we pick one and are not willing to listen to alternative voices, we'll not make a great deal of progress. Edwin

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:43 pm


Yes, there are arguably several unusual transitive uses of the verb go.

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary lists several meanings for go as a transitive verb:

go –v.t.
39. Informal. to endure or tolerate: I can't go his preaching.
40. Informal. to risk, pay, afford, bet, or bid: I'll go fifty dollars for a ticket, but no more.
41. to move or proceed with or according to; follow: Going my way?
42. to share or participate in to the extent of (often fol. by a complementary substantive): to go halves.
43. to yield, produce, weigh as a usable amount, or grow to: This field will go two bales of cotton.
44. to assume the obligation, responsibility, or function of: His father went bail for him.
45. Informal. to enjoy, appreciate, desire, or want: I could go a big steak dinner right now.
46. Informal. to say; declare (usually used in speech): I asked the clerk for my receipt, and he goes, “You don't need it.”

I'd disagree with 41 being a transitive usage; it's better classed as an example of an adverbial objective (contrast 39 & 40, for instance, where go informalises tolerate and spend (up to) - obviously transitive constructions. But you can't proceed anything, not even, I hope, in Oz). Compare go south, go home.
42 and 44, go halves and go bail (for) are recognised as being idioms, and I'd rather treat them as idiosyncratic single units. Similarly, go Dutch, go the whole hog.
45 is used informally in the UK as well as in Australia, I could go... informalising What I wouldn't give for...
46 would be considered as an example of a transitive usage by most grammarians, with goes = said, but I feel the quotes that quotative verbs enable are different entities from true direct objects.

On the other hand, if we accept Real Dictionary's acceptance of ape as an adjective, go ape (which it defines and gives an interesting etymology for, prior to the brand name) is a link-verb construction like go mad, bonkers, crazy, ballistic; green, mouldy....
Collins English Dictionary states that native in go native is an adjective rather than a noun, which would make this also a link-verb construction. It's probably better considered as a single entity. I haven't been able to find any claim that bush in go bush is anything but a noun, but this is certainly an idiomatic expression, and bush here is behaving most unlike a noun. Head bush seems to be mimicry, with more emphasis on entering the actual Australian scrubland than is usually intended in go bush (which often means run wild). A lot of references seem to be for the company, 'Heading Bush'. Similarly, walkabout in go walkabout is regarded as a noun if the need is felt to analyse the morphology of go walkabout. I first met the term in the Napoleon Bonaparte books of Upfield and assumed it was Aboriginal modification of English.
Last edited by Edwin F Ashworth on Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:36 am, edited 7 times in total.

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:17 am

Edwin F Ashworth wrote:But you can't proceed anything, not even, I hope, in Oz.
However, you can proGRESS something -- a lawsuit, an insurance claim, a marketing campaign...
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by dante » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:20 am

You're welcome Edwin. We are maybe laymen but it doesn't mean we can't give it a try:) Personally I find these discussions here helpful as they, with a little help of vast literature and information available on the net and a bit of thinking on this, help me make progress towards better understanding of English. I was struggling though in making comparisons between Serbian and English and I don't dare to go that way anymore, for the time being at least :)

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:38 pm

At http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=dMce ... &q&f=false, in

An historical syntax of the English language, Volume 1, Part 3, p135ff,

Fredericus Theodorus Visser gives much valuable information and theorisation on why some of the syntactic patterns we use in English seem / are so idiosyncratic. Functional shifts and loss of markers showing cases not used in today's English are the major reasons given for perhaps unexpected usages. Transitivation of verbs is stated to have been extremely large-scale.
Quasi-transitive verbs (I assume half the grammarians in the world consider them truly transitive...) of two types are posited:

The Saharan route is now flown by the French. / They ambled the circuit.

The land flows milk. (archaic) / He sweated blood. (not really a hyponymous cognate object)

There is also a valuable discussion of Transitive verbs used absolutely (ie without the object one would expect that they really demand). They are said to grade from those formed from the elision of a quite obvious object

(He drinks, you know!)

through the semi-opaque

(I can manage, thank you!)

to the opaque idiom

(This door gives on the garden. / How do you do?).

I was spurred to return to this topic when I heard the delightful discourse marker (in this context, a total put-down) "Do you not find, sir?" in the last in this year's series of Garrow's Law (set in the 18th Century).

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:20 pm

Edwin, You sort and I'll file.

Ken – December 8, 2011

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:32 pm

Just don't ask me to dance.

Re: Lead (someone) a merry dance

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:45 pm

For all our sakes, I'm going to hide the chewing-gum.

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