Dative case as the direct object?

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 18th, 2017, 3:27 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
December 18th, 2017, 3:02 pm
I'd also be interested in Stephen's take on this if different from the SIL definitions he quoted, and in Mike Aubrey's perspective.
Me too.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
December 18th, 2017, 3:02 pm
I think we need to start strictly with how the constructions are handled in Greek, and not let English or comparisons with other languages get in the way.
Sure, and every model will say that. I think my point is largely an epistemological one: words like direct objects and accusative are not in the language, they are in the model, which is an attempt to account for the things that happen in the language. More than one model may account for a phenomenon found in the language equally well, or one model may account for it better than another. (And I think you understand this perfectly well.)
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
December 18th, 2017, 3:02 pm
I have always taught that direct objects are accusatives strictly within the framework of Greek syntax, and that if something else is used that looks like a direct object in translation, we have to conceptualize it differently. Now having said that... :) what exactly is a direct object but an essentially adverbial construction which limits the action of the verb? And for that matter, isn't that what dative or genitive complements (such as with verbs of filling) also do?

In other words, there multiple perspectives for viewing these things, and most of them valid within a certain context.
To use Wittgenstein's analogy, there are many maps of our earth, but only one earth. Two maps may be equally good, but different. Or one map may be better than another. Regardless, neither map is the earth. So when we compare models, it's important to remember that they are all just models, and keep turning back to the language they describe. No matter how many maps I have of the Appalachian Trail, none of them describes it perfectly, and none of them is a substitute for hiking the trail.

Within a given model, it's important to be consistent. And when we ask questions like ones in this thread, it's helpful to ask ourselves if a given question is a question about the language or a question about the model. I suspect that Mocciaro's model and yours are pretty much equivalent, they just account for things differently.
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Alan Bunning » December 18th, 2017, 9:03 pm

Some other thoughts. I have notice that this phenomenon also occurs with the genitive case. Consider Matt. 17:5 ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ translated “be hearing him”, with “him” normally being translated as a direct object in English. But again, this could be considered an example of imposing our English ideas of transitivity upon the text. It just as easily could be translated as “be hearing of him” or “be hearing from him” in keeping with the genitive. Or we could even render it as an indirect object “be listening to him” (and then update our English grammars to say that genitive can sometimes be an indirect object :)). Another approach could be to supply the missing direct object with italics as in “be hearing the words of him” where we supply the “what” (the direct object we will be hearing). This then parallels the pattern of Matt. 7:24 ἀκούει μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους translated “is hearing these words of me”, and here the accusative is the normal direct object.

As I said before, I don’t think that the way people chose to translate something into English should be artificially thrust backwards upon the original language. It could that the notion of transitivity of verbs in a different language would quite naturally follow the Greek syntax without having to adjust it to our English notion of transitivity. For προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ, it is hard to think of anything in English other than “to worship him” with “him” sounding like a direct object. To say “to give_worship to him” as an indirect object may sound stilted in English, but the equivalent intransitive verb in another language may sound just fine with the dative being the indirect object.

I think what this is coming down to is whether verb transitivity is primarily tagged based on syntax or meaning. And I am leaning towards syntax at this point because “meaning” seems to mean “English meaning” which may not be so in other languages. Notice that Smyth prefaces the “Dative As Direct Complement Of Verbs” section saying, “The dative may be used as the sole complement of many verbs that are usually transitive in English” (emphasis mine). I like what Mocciaro wrote concerning the “different degrees of affectedness of the participant”, as when it comes to transitive meanings, there is a gradient of affectedness. But with considering the accusative to be the direct object, it is perhaps more cut and dried.

It appears that the PROIEL treebank was done in line with what I am proposing as they mark accusative direct objects with the “obj” tag, but the examples cited with what look like dative and genitive “objects” in English are marked with the “obl” tag. The GBI treebanks, on the other hand, go the other way and seem to mark dative and genitives as direct objects in line with our English notion of transitivity.

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 19th, 2017, 9:26 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 18th, 2017, 11:15 am
Stephen Carlson wrote:
December 17th, 2017, 6:37 pm
Does "direct object" even have a rigorous definition? My impression is that it's basically a school grammar term, and not something that you'd see in more sophisticated linguistics.
You certainly see it in older grammars like Smyth and Robertson, and it's used in some papers I would consider sophisticated linguistics. One thing that's important here: different schools of linguistics have different approaches to labeling the objects of a verb, and if you mix concepts from different schools you have to be very careful.
I would classify Smyth (and Robertson) as sophisticated school grammars. I suppose it depends on why one wants to use the term "direct object." If it's to communicate with other exegetes, then Smyth (or BDF etc.) may be the way to go. If I read § 919, right Smyth reserves the term "direct object" for accusative objects. Then you have things called "dative complements."
Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 18th, 2017, 11:15 am
The Brill article is short and easy to read. Section 3, "The Semantics of DO", says this:
Mocciaro wrote:Prototypically - but not exclusively - DOs receive an accusative encoding. Ancient Greek, in fact, allows some variation in the choice of case, which reflects different degrees of affectedness of the participant.
It goes on to list examples in Accusative, Dative, and Genitive.
Thanks for the article. But it turned out to be less than fully helpful. Basically it defines the direct object as the object of a transitive verb. Transitivity is not defined, but referred to in another article.

The problem is, as evident in Mocciaro piece, is that with two argument verbs, the second argument (the object) gets different marking depending how affected the object is / how transitive the verb is. If the term "direct object" is defined with respect to transitivity, then we have some sort of (potentially arbitrary?) line-drawing exercise to decide whether a verb is transitive, because we're looking at a graduation of affectedness instead of discrete categories. This line may or may not correspond to particular case markings, so I'm not sure what point of the line-drawing exercise is.

Nevertheless, the term "direct object" seems well defined for the patient of a monotransitive verb and the theme of a ditransitive verb. Since English has a common strategy of encoding these, it has some utility as a comparative concept in teaching Greek to English speakers. Anything beyond this particular set of (fairly common) verbs, it gets murky. Perhaps some sort of Case Frame Grammar (à la Paul Danove) could be more rigorous, but even there are difficult boundary cases.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 19th, 2017, 12:03 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:
December 18th, 2017, 9:03 pm
As I said before, I don’t think that the way people chose to translate something into English should be artificially thrust backwards upon the original language. It could that the notion of transitivity of verbs in a different language would quite naturally follow the Greek syntax without having to adjust it to our English notion of transitivity. For προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ, it is hard to think of anything in English other than “to worship him” with “him” sounding like a direct object. To say “to give_worship to him” as an indirect object may sound stilted in English, but the equivalent intransitive verb in another language may sound just fine with the dative being the indirect object.
I'm nervous about this approach.

Consider Mark 5:31 Τίς μου ἥψατο; I think that there is an agent / patient relationship here, someone touched him. In the sentence "someone touched me", "someone" is the agent and "me" is the patient. In the sentence ἥψατο μού τις, τις is the agent and μού is the patient. If we call the patient an object when it is accusative and call it a complement when it is not, what aspect of the Greek language are we capturing in that distinction?
Alan Bunning wrote:
December 18th, 2017, 9:03 pm
I think what this is coming down to is whether verb transitivity is primarily tagged based on syntax or meaning. And I am leaning towards syntax at this point because “meaning” seems to mean “English meaning” which may not be so in other languages. Notice that Smyth prefaces the “Dative As Direct Complement Of Verbs” section saying, “The dative may be used as the sole complement of many verbs that are usually transitive in English” (emphasis mine). I like what Mocciaro wrote concerning the “different degrees of affectedness of the participant”, as when it comes to transitive meanings, there is a gradient of affectedness. But with considering the accusative to be the direct object, it is perhaps more cut and dried.
Maybe. Of course, the subject of infinitives is accusative, should we call it a complement instead of an object because it is not nominative? What distinction is made by calling some arguments objects and others complements?

In the Greek sentence ἥψατο μού τις, do you consider ἥψατο transitive? I think I do.
Alan Bunning wrote:
December 18th, 2017, 9:03 pm
It appears that the PROIEL treebank was done in line with what I am proposing as they mark accusative direct objects with the “obj” tag, but the examples cited with what look like dative and genitive “objects” in English are marked with the “obl” tag. The GBI treebanks, on the other hand, go the other way and seem to mark dative and genitives as direct objects in line with our English notion of transitivity.
In PROIEL, isn't an indirect object marked with the "obl" tag as well? How would you distinguish this kind of object from a bog standard indirect object? With Smyth, calling it a complement rather than an object makes this distinction.
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Jonathan Robie
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 19th, 2017, 12:13 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 9:26 am
I would classify Smyth (and Robertson) as sophisticated school grammars. I suppose it depends on why one wants to use the term "direct object." If it's to communicate with other exegetes, then Smyth (or BDF etc.) may be the way to go. If I read § 919, right Smyth reserves the term "direct object" for accusative objects. Then you have things called "dative complements."
Sure, that's reasonable.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 9:26 am
The problem is, as evident in Mocciaro piece, is that with two argument verbs, the second argument (the object) gets different marking depending how affected the object is / how transitive the verb is. If the term "direct object" is defined with respect to transitivity, then we have some sort of (potentially arbitrary?) line-drawing exercise to decide whether a verb is transitive, because we're looking at a graduation of affectedness instead of discrete categories. This line may or may not correspond to particular case markings, so I'm not sure what point of the line-drawing exercise is.
Sure. And examples like ἥψατο μού τις make me think that the patient might be quite affected for some of these.
Stephen Carlson wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 9:26 am
Nevertheless, the term "direct object" seems well defined for the patient of a monotransitive verb and the theme of a ditransitive verb. Since English has a common strategy of encoding these, it has some utility as a comparative concept in teaching Greek to English speakers. Anything beyond this particular set of (fairly common) verbs, it gets murky. Perhaps some sort of Case Frame Grammar (à la Paul Danove) could be more rigorous, but even there are difficult boundary cases.
Yes, I agree.

I also wonder if semantic roles could be helpful here - this sort of thing, made complete and systematic.
Semantic roles of subjects:

Agent: Mary gave John a book.

Affected: A book was given to John.

Instrumental:The book made John happy.

Characterized:The book was expensive.


Semantic roles of direct objects:

Affected: Peter burnt the toast.

Effected: Peter made us toast.

Eventive: Peter gave a shout.

Semantic role of indirect objects:

Recipient: Mary gave John a book.

Semantic role of subject and object predicatives:

Attributive:
The students were overwhelmed.
The students looked overwhelmed.
The students found grammar intriguing.
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Alan Bunning » December 19th, 2017, 12:50 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 12:03 pm
Consider Mark 5:31 Τίς μου ἥψατο;
That is a perfectly good example. It is hard to think of it as anything but transitive according to our English notions. But that does not mean the Greeks thought of it that way. Or that a different language would for that matter. In English, to say “He touched of me” would sound very strange, but not “He touched the body of me”, with the body being the supplied direct object for clarity. Indeed, there are Greek verbs where I can understand the meaning of it in Greek, but can’t express at all well in English and capture the same sense. I have noticed that what look like dative and genitive “objects” in all of the examples I have looked at, always involve people (the who), not the what (as often thought of a direct object). I have not studied that systematically though.
Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 12:03 pm
Of course, the subject of infinitives is accusative, should we call it a complement instead of an object because it is not nominative?
I wouldn't unless it functions as the object.
Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 12:03 pm
In PROIEL, isn't an indirect object marked with the "obl" tag as well?
Yes, I think that is the point. They are not marked as direct objects with the “obj” tag, but presumably some other oblique case. (I am not familiar with all of their conventions.)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 19th, 2017, 1:19 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 12:50 pm
Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 12:03 pm
Consider Mark 5:31 Τίς μου ἥψατο;
That is a perfectly good example. It is hard to think of it as anything but transitive according to our English notions. But that does not mean the Greeks thought of it that way. Or that a different language would for that matter. In English, to say “He touched of me” would sound very strange, but not “He touched the body of me”, with the body being the supplied direct object for clarity. Indeed, there are Greek verbs where I can understand the meaning of it in Greek, but can’t express at all well in English and capture the same sense. I have noticed that what look like dative and genitive “objects” in all of the examples I have looked at, always involve people (the who), not the what (as often thought of a direct object). I have not studied that systematically though.
But how do you know for sure how the Greeks thought of it? That's not something we can get from your intuition or mine, and rewording English translations in more stilted English prose or more abstract metalanguage does not make it more like how the Greeks thought.

And for the most part, our metalanguage is not how native speakers of a language think. Nobody asks "what is the subject of the verb swimming"? They ask, "who swam"? And I suspect a native Greek speaker back then would have a hard time explaining to us why μου is genitive in that sentence.

If we went back 2,000 years and asked a native Greek speaker to explain the difference between an object and a complement, I doubt they could give us a ready answer.
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Alan Bunning » December 19th, 2017, 1:32 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 1:19 pm
But how do you know for sure how the Greeks thought of it? That's not something we can get from your intuition or mine, and rewording English translations in more stilted English prose or more abstract metalanguage does not make it more like how the Greeks thought.
Yes, again I think that is the point. We don't know exactly how they ascribed meaning in these cases, which is why I think it is better to stick with the case markings as they are traditionally understood. And then let people of different languages translate in a manner that they think makes the most sense for their language, without applying an English understanding of transitivity upon the text for them.

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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 20th, 2017, 1:14 pm

Alan Bunning wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 12:50 pm
Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 19th, 2017, 12:03 pm
In PROIEL, isn't an indirect object marked with the "obl" tag as well?
Yes, I think that is the point. They are not marked as direct objects with the “obj” tag, but presumably some other oblique case. (I am not familiar with all of their conventions.)
All design is optimization, so it depends on what you are optimizing for.

If you don't want to distinguish direct objects from indirect objects or other kinds of objects, you could simply call them all arguments and not try to distinguish them based on meaning. As soon as you start talking about specific kinds of objects, such as direct object, you should probably be consistent with that. I don't know PROIEL well enough to say if they are consistent or not here. But if the case is already recorded in an attribute, creating a label to say that this dative object is oblique feels redundant to me if that's all it means. If it has more semantics than that, it may be useful.

If you distinguish objects from complements, and the only distinction is case, then that also seems like a distinction without a real difference.

I like the fact that I could easily query to find instances of dative or genitive objects. I don't think calling some of these complements would make it easier to query or understand. I don't think calling some of these obliques would make it easier to query or understand, and it would make it harder to find them.
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Alan Bunning
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Re: Dative case as the direct object?

Post by Alan Bunning » December 20th, 2017, 3:22 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
December 20th, 2017, 1:14 pm
I like the fact that I could easily query to find instances of dative or genitive objects. I don't think calling some of these complements would make it easier to query or understand. I don't think calling some of these obliques would make it easier to query or understand, and it would make it harder to find them.
The more I look into this issue, the more it seems to me that such a search is merely finding the dative or genitive cases where they could sound like a direct object in English. Again, if I merely change the gloss in most of those cases, then now you are merely finding what sound like indirect objects in English.

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