LINGUIST List 14.1050

Tue Apr 8 2003

Sum: Meaning Analysis of a Sentence

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. Hans Prufer, Summary on meaning analysis of "The man gives ..."

Message 1: Summary on meaning analysis of "The man gives ..."

Date: Mon, 07 Apr 2003 00:38:44 +0000
From: Hans Prufer <>
Subject: Summary on meaning analysis of "The man gives ..."

Dear colleagues,

Here is a summary of what I enquired about a month ago 
(Linguist 14.588), meaning analysis of a sentence, The man gives a 
dog a water.

In all, I received 74 e-mails. As some respondents have given me
multiple meanings, I have included them in multiples in such case.

(11) The sentence is proper and grammatical.

(20) The sentence is improper and ungrammatical. All 20 pointed out
the fact that water is non-count and should not be used with a.

(17) The sentence would be more proper with present progressive orpast
tense. ('is giving or gave instead of gives').

(26) Within a proper context, the sentence is grammatically okay
without anthromorphisizing a dog.

(22) The sentence is grammatically okay but semantically and/or
pragmatically odd for dog is not participants for a bottle or glass of
water in context unless dog is anthromorphosized.

(3) The sentence sounds foreign, mis-written by a foreigner.

(14) Using the instead of a in front of dog would be more suitable.

(40) Missed out a in front of dog and interpreted a as the.

(58) Directly or indirectly recognized a water as a bottle of water or a glass of water.

(15) a water is possibly used as a verbal noun meaning pouring dog
water such as in gives a plant a water.

(8) a water means a kind of water.

(2) water what? Expected a noun to follow a water.

(1) give a dog a water as a possible idiom for give the dog a bath?

(1) give a dog a water as a possible idiom for take the dog out to

To satisfy the curiosity of some respondents who asked me what my
purpose was in asking possible sentence meanings: I am currently doing
a research on how much and what aspects of the surface language
expressed might be due to language particular grammar rules and not
Linguistic Competence, the Universal Grammar of languages.

Thank you! 
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue