A Syntactic and Semantic Investigation of German and English
7 Dative of Inaction
In this chapter, I discuss the last type of German applicative arguments, namely the Dative of Inaction (DI):99
Though Hens gives the translation of the DI with “on grandma” in (358), a better translation would be “on grandma’s watch” or “Grandma let the vase break”. This translation avoids ambiguity with the affected experiencer in the English translation, and it reflects the meaning of the DI better because it indicates that the grandma was in some way in charge of the vase and could have prevented its breaking. This is the meaning of the DI in (358).100 Following Hens (1997) and Rosengren (1975), I argue that the Dative of Inaction needs to be distinguished from other applicative arguments because of its semantic contribution and its limited occurrence.
The DI is an applicative argument according to my definition (4). It is not governed by a preposition (358), and it is not selected by the verb (359).
In (359), the involvement of another entity is not entailed (compared to (358)). Thus, the DI meets all requirements of an applicative argument.
In terms of the classification of applicatives by Pylkkänen (2002), the DI should be a high applicative argument because no transfer of possession is involved. In fact, no possession requirement exists for the DI. In (358), it is not necessarily the grandma’s vase that broke (Hens 1995). Yet, as described below, the...
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