Friday, February 16, 2007

More on spraying

So, biking home today, I found myself thinking some more about spraying. I think that although the essence of my comments in the last post are correct, there's some other things that might be interesting to note.

Yesterday, I noted that 'spray' comes in an intransitive manner-of-motion construction:

1. The oil sprayed onto the wall.

Interestingly, I find this to be ill-formed without the Goal PP:

2. #The oil sprayed.

What about the transitive case? The agentive manner of motion form is fine, with the unselected object, of course; that's what we were talking about:

3. Sue sprayed her way out of the hospital.

But there's also a selected-object causative, a true causative of (1) (unlike (3), which is an unselected-object case:

4. Sue sprayed the paint onto the wall.

I personally find (4) somewhat degraded without the Goal PP, which is nice, because it means that (4) and (5) really do parallel (1) and (2):

5. ?#Sue sprayed the oil.

And, of course, (4) can undergo the famous 'spray/load' alternation, whereby the Goal PP can be reanalyzed as a direct object, with consequences for its measuring-out ability and scope properties (scope of indefinite Goal gets fixed w/r to universally quantified Theme):

6. Sue sprayed the wall with oil.

But really got me thinking on the way home was that it occurred to me that there is another transitive 'spray' -- interestingly, where the subject isn't agentive at all. Rather, the subject is just the source of the spraying. The object is the Theme, and no Goal is necessary (though of course one is possible).

6. a. The hose sprayed oil.
b. The wound sprayed blood.

How about that! This is kind of an interesting case. The subject is truly external, with a kind of source/instrument reading, but is crucially nonvolitional. (There are other examples like this -- 'glow', etc. -- but this is the first transitive one I've really noticed). It's almost a kind of cognate/hyponymous object construction (The broken pipe sprayed a fine spray of oil), except that the object isn't optional, unlike the usual cognate/hyponymous object constructions (see (2)).

Hmmmm!

2 Comments:

Blogger Andrew said...

My LING300 class and I were talking about spray/load verbs the other day. 95% (including me) said that the sentence you give in 5 is perfect. Sorry! :-(

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