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Direct Object?

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Direct Object?

Postby ellisje » Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:42 pm

This is a question that I have asked before but my mind has not settled yet. Are the following accusative nouns direct objects?

Gubernator caelum spectat.

Medicus cubiculum intrat.

It seems like "caelum" and "cubiculum" are objects of prepositions ("at" and "into" would be implicit), not verbs. Is this true? If so, what aspect of the accusative case allows for this?
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Swth\r » Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:58 pm

Not without any reservation, I think they are objects. Perhaps you think they are accusative that denote movement to something, but as I understand it they are objects.

It is like saying in English: The steersman watches the sky. Medinus enters the room.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Trimalchio » Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:32 pm

If you translate spectat as "looks at" then the "at" is built into the verb and the sky/weather remains a direct object. See above posters example of changing "looks at" to "watches"

The same for intrat. If you so "Medinus enters the room" the room is the direct object. If you say "Medinus goes into the room" then the "into" is built into the verb. I would probably refrain from putting words into verbs, however. Many teachers do not like it.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby peterp » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:33 pm

I agree with swith/r that they are direct objects but thats just me
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby AVM » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:45 pm

I think that they are Objects as well. He is talking about sky thus it is the object of the sentence.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby paulusnb » Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:38 pm

They are Direct Objects. You could just as easily translate spectat as watch. You will have the same problem with Dative and Indirect Object. Often we translate the dative with "to" or "for" but we call it the Indirect Object in Latin class.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Superavi » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:29 pm

Normally the easiest way to figure out whether something is a direct object or not is to consider the verb for a moment. If the verb is transitive then there has to be a DO. If the verb is intransitive then there shouldn't be a DO. Specto is transitive so there has to be a DO somewhere (whether in the sentence or carried over from a prior sentence). Intro is trickier though since it can be both transitive and intransitive, and depends on the sentence.

I think "cubiculum" is actually the object of a preposition. I believe since it is a verb of motion it needs a preposition not a DO. I could be wrong on this though. I think it is like the difference between "walking a dog" (transitive), and "walking with a dog" (intransitive with preposition).
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby paulusnb » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:11 am

I do not recall seeing intrat used with a preposition. As far as calling it the object of the preposition without one actually being present in the latin....... I cannot wrap my mind around that. There are Latin uses of the ablative that we use prepositions to translate. For example, dedit signum tuba (he gave the signal with a horn). We do not call tuba the object of the preposition but the instrument.

But screw this....these are messy categories created to explain acquired habit. They break down, but the general idea works. If we want precision here, we must be vague. :D The accusative shows extension. Case closed.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Essorant » Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:54 am

Doesn't the accusative case itself indicate that they are direct objects? :)
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby ellisje » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:30 am

Here is a sentence from Lingua Latina that uses the accusative and the ablative with what I can only assume are implied prepositions:

Medus (nom) via Latina (abl) Tusculo (abl) Romam (acc) ambulat.

"Romam" cannot be the direct object, despite its case. "Tusculo" also assumes a preposition, correct? Is the preposition assumed in the context or does the accusative case contain the meaning of the preposition "to"? This is essentially what I was getting at with the original post - how to explain the nature of the accusative case beyond the direct object function?

Thank you for all the input so far.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Essorant » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:22 am

But why do you think the direct object is no longer a direct object if it may have a prepositional sense to it? Even though they are different mannerisms, I tend to consider both "Romam ambulat" and "caelum spectat" as having direct objects. What you may be having difficulty with is that the "motion towards" direct object is not something we are very familiar with in our English, except in the saying "I go home", where "home" is in the accusative case as well.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby paulusnb » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:40 am

ellisje wrote:Is the preposition assumed in the context or does the accusative case contain the meaning of the preposition "to"?


Just because we translate Latin with prepositions does not mean there is an assumed preposition. I would say it contains the English preposition. Inflection takes the place of prepositions.



The accusative case does not mean direct object. Smyth's Greek Grammar gives the following definition:

"The accusative is a form of defining or qualifying the verb."

Smyth later says "a noun stands in the accusative when the idea it expresses is most immediately and most completely under the influence of the verbal conception."

That ought to do it. :D Thank you Smyth.




ellisje wrote:"Romam" cannot be the direct object, despite its case.


Allen and Greenough have this to say of expressions of place: "In expressions of time and place, Latin shows a variety of idiomatic constructions." 422 Think of it no more. It is idiomatic.



ellisje wrote:It seems like "caelum" and "cubiculum" are objects of prepositions ("at" and "into" would be implicit), not verbs. Is this true? If so, what aspect of the accusative case allows for this?


Again, we are describing Latin and there are no prepositions present in the Latin. It would be wrong to say something is an object of a preposition if no preposition is present. I say again that I think you are letting English mess you up. Translate spectat as "sees" and call it a day. Can we agree that "see" takes a direct object, or must it imply a preposition because nothing is truly affected or acted upon?

You will shoot yourself if you continue on this track. Or at least I will. :D

Get yourself an Allen and Greenough and take pleasure in their work.

Or, you could study Church Latin, where inflection dies and prepositions take over. :D
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby ellisje » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:30 pm

paulusnb,

Thank you, your post is very helpful. After some reflection I think that my confusion has to do with the fact that the ablative case has fairly well-defined subcategories that describe the various modes of the case (ablative of means, price, attendant circumstance, etc.) but in my text, at least (Lingua Latina), similar denominations don't exist for the accusative case (like accusative of extent or direction, as distinct from the DO function).

I think you are right though - I'll leave it alone. My wife has already left me over this and I have fallen behind on my bills because I haven't been able to work.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby paulusnb » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:06 pm

You can download A New Latin Grammar from Textkit. It is just what the doctor ordered. It goes into detail with the accusative (10ish distinct uses), and many, many other things.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Imber Ranae » Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:41 pm

ellisje wrote:Here is a sentence from Lingua Latina that uses the accusative and the ablative with what I can only assume are implied prepositions:

Medus (nom) via Latina (abl) Tusculo (abl) Romam (acc) ambulat.

"Romam" cannot be the direct object, despite its case. "Tusculo" also assumes a preposition, correct? Is the preposition assumed in the context or does the accusative case contain the meaning of the preposition "to"? This is essentially what I was getting at with the original post - how to explain the nature of the accusative case beyond the direct object function?

Thank you for all the input so far.


I agree with the others that intro,-are and specto,-are both take direct objects, being transitive verbs, and thus no preposition is implied even if English idiom demands one. On the other hand, I think you can rightly say that a preposition is implied with both Tusculo and Romam in your sentence above, in the sense that most other nouns would require a preposition in those positions. E.g., if you replaced Tusculum with the noun oppidum and Roma with the noun urbs, you would have to rephrase the sentence thus: "Medus via Latina ab oppido ad urbem ambulat." The rub here is that there's a peculiar rule in Latin that affects a select group of nouns, which includes domus, rus, humus, and all names of cities, towns, and small islands (Tusculum is a town, Roma a city). The rule is that these nouns, instead of indicating location by the preposition in + ablative, have a special locative case for that designation; and instead of indicating end of motion by the preposition ad + accusative, the accusative alone is used; and instead of indicating place from which by the preposition ab + ablative, the ablative alone is used. There are a few exceptions to the rule, of course, but it is for the most part consistent. In addition, via Latina is ablative of way by which, a subclass of ablative of means, so it would never take a preposition.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Imber Ranae » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:00 pm

Essorant wrote:But why do you think the direct object is no longer a direct object if it may have a prepositional sense to it? Even though they are different mannerisms, I tend to consider both "Romam ambulat" and "caelum spectat" as having direct objects. What you may be having difficulty with is that the "motion towards" direct object is not something we are very familiar with in our English, except in the saying "I go home", where "home" is in the accusative case as well.


I disagree that Romam is the direct object of ambulat. If you replaced Romam with urbem you would need the preposition ad. When ambulare does take a direct object, which it can, it means "to traverse", and as such it doesn't indicate the end of motion but rather the area bypassed. It can also take the accusative of extent, e.g. "Medus XL milia passuum Romam ambulat." This is more closely related to the direct object meaning.
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Imber Ranae » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:04 pm

ellisje wrote:paulusnb,

Thank you, your post is very helpful. After some reflection I think that my confusion has to do with the fact that the ablative case has fairly well-defined subcategories that describe the various modes of the case (ablative of means, price, attendant circumstance, etc.) but in my text, at least (Lingua Latina), similar denominations don't exist for the accusative case (like accusative of extent or direction, as distinct from the DO function).

I think you are right though - I'll leave it alone. My wife has already left me over this and I have fallen behind on my bills because I haven't been able to work.


Wait, your wife left you because you've been obsessing over Latin grammar? :?
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby ellisje » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:27 pm

That's just a joke to indicate that I realize I have probably got myself stuck in the weeds over this question. :D
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby Essorant » Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:39 pm

I disagree that Romam is the direct object of ambulat.


I never said it was the direct object of the verb ambulat itself. But I think it is is a direct object of a sense of motion. I am not sure how else to reconcile it being the same case as the (normal) "direct object".
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Re: Direct Object?

Postby benissimus » Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:01 am

Essorant wrote:I never said it was the direct object of the verb ambulat itself. But I think it is is a direct object of a sense of motion. I am not sure how else to reconcile it being the same case as the (normal) "direct object".

This is in conflict, however, with the meaning of direct object:
American Heritage Dictionary wrote:[A direct object is a] word or phrase in a sentence referring to the person or thing receiving the action of a transitive verb.

So you can't , at least in traditional grammatical terminology, have a "direct object of a sense of motion."

While I have no problem with you following your own logic (nor could I stop you if I wanted to!), it seems that your explanation explains the minority uses of accusative and is at a loss for explaining why the rest of the words use preposition + acc.
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