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Re: [Lingo] Correct particle to use

> There is a case where it is acceptable to say 「コーヒーを飲みたい」
> (instead of the far more common 「コーヒーが飲みたい」). That is when
> you are de-emphasising the object, and applying the desire to
> the entire verb clause.
> ... Because が, as we know, tends to emphasize the thing before it.

I'd be curious to know whether this acceptability extends even to older
people.  It seems entirely plausible that this could be just another
aspect of the possible change affecting syntactic treatment of patients
(sounds awfully medical, eh :-) that we've been discussing. If there's a
reanalysis going on under the hood, in which simple V-declaratives and
V-potentials (to use your notation) are being unified, could it not
also be the case that A-desideratives (-たい) are ALSO becoming
V-desiderative under the same unification?? The mind reels :-)

> I guess it is conceivable to think that this could be at work in the
> case of V-potential, but my wife could not remember specifically
> studying it, and has not had time to dig out her notes and.

Nothing personal to your wife, of course, but I wouldn't bother with
stuff she learned in school. I have acquired a kind of knee-jerk
skepticism about the things many 日本人 linguists say about their
own language.  I've seen books in which some rather dodgy data is used
to justify certain conclusions, specifically conclusions which suggest
that Japanese falls right in line with English and other I-E languages
as being a textbook example of the operation of Chomskyan theories.
I'm not an anti-Chomskyan by any means, but I'm not a card-carrier

I'm far more interested in your wife's native-speaking intuitions, all
the more valuable since she's a trained linguist :-)

> I would argue, however, that in the case of V-potential, the object
> should always be emphasized.
> が "I can read this book (and only this book)"
> を "I can read. (This book.)"

Absolutes'll get you into trouble :-)  How about a case like one
in which you might say この本を読めるよ as a way of pointing out
you're capable of reading Japanese, rather than that you're capable
of reading a particular book?  Maybe this is what your example
is intended to show.

> So I'll continue to consider を a grammatical error in this case,
> because that allows me to sleep at night. ;)

No doubt you're in the good company of thousands of 国語 teachers


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