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Also see: Inflection
it accurate to state that in ditransitive verbs the recipient object is
rarely expressed overtly at all and that it is only expressed as a verbal
Rather than stating, “the recipient object is rarely expressed overtly” I
think it might be better to state something to the effect of, “In
ditransitive verbs the recipient object (also known as the indirect or
secondary object) is often articulated via movement and location
rather than handshape.”
To better understand “ditransitive verbs" (verbs
which take a subject and two objects) in ASL it might help to take a look at
the English sentence: “Fred gave the book to Bob.”
Consider what the English sentence did
NOT say: "(A
man named) Fred gave (a)
book to (a man)
If in English we are able to simply say "Fred gave the book to Bob" it must
be because three things have previously been identified in this
1. We already know about Fred
2. We already know about Bob
3. We already know about the book.
If our listener knows those three bits of information, we can get rid of “A
man named” and we can use the word “the” instead of the word “a.”
The fact that the English sentence is using the word "the" indicates that
the book has been previously
identified and so when signing the sentence in ASL the
previously identified book now be incorporated into a classifier
handshape that looks as if a person were holding a book (CLASSIFIER:"flattened
C") and simultaneously move that classifier starting from the location of
where Fred has been already been established and ending at the location
where Bob has already been established. Thus the whole sentence will
be accomplished with a single sign moved in a specific direction from
and to specific locations accompanied by a slight nod of the head:
Location-“FRED”-CLASSIFIER:"flattened C"-(give to)-location”Bob”-(nod).
Thus we see the recipient object being articulated via movement and location
rather than handshape.”
Let’s now take a brief look at other constructions that might appear less
often and consider why they might appear and how they would be expressed in
English sentence: “Fred gave Bob the book.” = F-R-E-D GIVE-to B-O-B BOOK.
Discussion: Such a sentence might be used to clarify that it was a book that
Fred gave to Bob and not something else like a “disk.”
English sentence: “The book was given to Bob by Fred.” = BOOK? WHO HAVE
(rhetorical)? BOB. WHO GIVE (rhetorical)? FRED.
Why use such a weird sentence? Suppose there are multiple objects being
discussed and multiple people in our scenario? Such a sentence might be used
to clarify that of various available objects it was a book that was
given (not a candlestick), of the various people involved it is Bob who
received it (not someone else), and it was given by Fred (not someone else).
English sentence: “Bob was given the book by Fred.” = BOB? GOT BOOK. WHO
Why would someone sign it this way? To clarify that of the people involved
it was indeed the previously identified Bob who got the book.
Now, just because such sentences are "possible" in ASL doesn't mean they are
prominent. If considered
out of context many "proper" sentences
would be labeled "improper" by many ASL instructors. Thus it is
important that we know the context and intent of an utterance before we
proclaim that it is correct or not.
William G. Vicars, Ed.D.
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