Rob Haden wrote:
> In the sentence "I give John the dog," I think that the "primary object"
> (i.e., the direct object)

No, not "direct object".  My point in using the term "primary object" is
that direct and indirect object DON'T APPLY in English.

In the ditransitive sentence "I gave John the dog", John behaves the
same as in the monotransitive sentence "I saw John", namely that in
passivization, both can be made subjects, "John was given the dog",
"John was seen".

But, to raise "dog" to the status of subject, you must first convert the
ditransitive sentence to a monotransitive sentence with an oblique, "I
gave the dog to John", only then can you passivize it as "The dog was
given to John"

> Jonele daru kuna.  "John is given the dog."
> Kuna daru Jonele.  "The dog is given to John."
> The literal translations of the OurTongue sentences are "To-John is-given
> dog" and "Dog is-given to-John."  A sentence like "To John is given the
> dog" would never be spoken by a native or fluent English-speaker, although
> I would consider it grammatical.

Well, your first sentence is the same kind of construction in Old
English that gave rise to sentences like "John was given the dog"
(namely John-dative was given dog-nom), but in Modern English, "John"
has been reinterpreted as subject (John was given the dogs, not *John
were given the dogs, I was given the book, not *me was given the book),
and so my earlier analysis is, I believe, the correct synchronic
interpretation for Modern English.

There are, incidentally, languages with morphological cases that follow
the synchronic English pattern.

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