Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 02:00:00 LCL From: "M. Lynne Murphy" <104LYN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MUSE.ARTS.WITS.AC.ZA> Subject: Re: needs + present participle > Now I'm doubting my own recollections. Several have written that "X needs > a washing" is grammatical in their dialects. Is "X needs washing" grammatical > in the dialects of anybody? I'm not alone out here, am I? > Greg Pulliam it's grammatical to me. my car needs washing. my hair needs trimming. my arbor needs pruning. my lectures need preparing. my chair needs mending. but, i prefer: my paper needs to be written. vs. ?my paper needs writing. my gut reaction is that this is b/c the papers don't exist yet. "my paper needs revising" is fine. but this explanation might be thwarted by the lecture example above. but then, maybe it's related to "*my used books need selling" which seems weird to me because it does not benefit my books to be sold. or, it doesn't change my books to be sold (it only changes my storage space and my pocket). also: *my mother needs writing (to). (but: my mother needs to be written (to) once a week.) *my friend needs calling. (but: my friend needs to be called.) *my students need helping. (but: my students need help/to be helped) perhaps it's the case that in the present participle cases, it doesn't have to be the possessor of the object that is the understood agent of the participle--the agent seems to be unspecified in a way that it isn't w/ a passive paraphrase of the same. i.e., in the case of "my car needs washing" we needn't assume that i have to wash it (i could hire a kid to do it), but w/ my mother, it doesn't satisfy her if the publisher's clearinghouse writes to her--she isn't "written to" in this context unless i (or someone else made relevant by the context) do it. again, though, i think that the lecture example works against this hypothesis. incidentally, all of the above are true, so: my nerves need calming. lynne --------------------------------------------------------------------- M. Lynne Murphy 104lyn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Department of Linguistics phone: 27(11)716-2340 University of the Witwatersrand fax: 27(11)716-8030 Johannesburg 2050 SOUTH AFRICA