Feel Me Bad
Posted by Neal on June 24, 2005
For the past few years, every now and then I’ve heard Doug or Adam say something like one of these:
- She taked me a bath. (i.e. gave him a bath, made him take a bath)
- You taked me the band-aid off. (i.e helped him take it off.)
- It feeled me bad. (i.e. made him feel bad)
They’re extending the pattern found in verbs such as melt or walk, which can be either intransitive like this:
The butter melted.
The dog walked quickly.
or transitive with a meaning of “cause to [intransitive meaning],” like this:
I melted the butter.
I walked the dog.
With take, Doug and Adam are extending it to work with a verb that is already transitive and turn it into a verb that takes two objects instead of one. As for feel, it’s neither intransitive nor transitive; it takes an adjectival complement (in our example, bad) instead of a direct object. Doug and Adam use it as a verb that can take a direct object in addition to the adjectival complement. In short, they seem to be able to make causative verbs out of any verb, so that it can take a direct object in addition to whatever other stuff has to follow it (nothing in the case of melt, walk; one direct object in the case of take; an adjectival complement in the case of feel.
My question is: Why can’t I do that? There’s almost certainly been something written about why certain kinds of verbs can participate in this kind of causative alternation, and others can’t.