[MUD-Dev] English grammar thoughts

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 22 21:08:50 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


On Monday 22 October 2001 4:04, Marian Griffith wrote:
> On Mon 22 Oct, Travis Casey wrote:
>> On Saturday 20 October 2001 12:49, Kylotan wrote:

>>> For some intents and purposes, you can consider 'wave' to be a
>>> single verb that is simply used in different grammatical
>>> contexts, but not really this case.

>> Why not?  The action of "waving" is the same either way.

> Actually no.  I am no specialist on english grammar, but 'to wave'
> is a verb that requires no object (though it may have a direct
> one) while 'to wave at' always requires an indirect object (and
> may have a direct one). I.e. 'You wave' is correct and complete
> sentence but 'You wave at' is not.  So, while the action described
> by thew word 'wave' is the same in both cases, they are not really
> the same.

I'd argue that they're still the same.  "You wave." is indeed
considered correct English, even though it lacks an object.
However, "Go to the store." is also considered correct English, even
though it lacks a subject.

The subject in "Go to the store." is considered to be implied.  In
the same way, I would say that there is an implied object in "You
wave." -- waving is a physical motion, and therefore there must be
*something* that is waved.  The action, therefore, must have an
object, even if you are allowed to not state what that object is.

Given the purpose that's desired here -- a mud parser -- this seems
to me to be an important distinction, and the most logical way to
look at things. For example, in designing a mud, you might want to
limit things so that verbs that indicate a physical action cannot be
performed when that action is impossible.  A being with no physical
body, but with the ability to move things (e.g., a poltergeist)
might not be able to "wave" (since the most logical implied object
is a body part), but might be able to "wave the sword".

> This is different from 'to look' and 'to look at' which have
> really different meanings and merely share the word look because
> they both involve using they eyes.  That is, in the example given.
> 'To look' can also be used in the same way as 'to wave' of
> course. I think it is called a passive subject from the way the
> verb is used in a sen- tence like 'You look red', but I could
> easily be mistaken here.

>>  If "to > wave at" is a different verb, than are "to wave in the
>>  direction of" > and "to wave towards" also different verbs?
>>  These are simply > modifying phrases indicating the direction in
>>  which one is waving.

> They are synomyms, which is not quite the same ;)

The only distinction I can see is between "at" and the other two,
and it's one of intent -- I may be waving *at* the phone on the
wall, but in doing so, I also have to wave 'towards' and 'in the
direction of' everything that's around the phone However, someone
seeing me might believe that I'm waving at the caller ID box, which
is right next to the phone.

Getting back to this being a game parser, if intent is important,
then you might well want to treat "wave at" and "wave towards"
differently -- e.g., a magic wand might be fired by waving it at
something, but not by waving it toward something.

>> Yes... but that's not the case with "wave".  It indicates the
>> same fundamental action -- that of moving an object
>> back-and-forth a few times -- whether or not it has "at X",
>> "towards X", "to X", etc.

> Gramatically speaking the two are different though.

I'm still not convinced that there are actually two different verbs
at work in the case of "wave", rather than just one which can be
used with an implied object.  We'd really want to check with a
linguist to be sure, but I don't think anyone on the list is one.

--
       |\      _,,,---,,_     Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-' 
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) 

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