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What is the part of speech of "Tater Salad" in the sentence 'They call me "Tater Salad."'?

What about "crazy" in "They call me crazy."?

For that matter, is "me" the object of the verb "call" in both of those sentences?

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i want to know this answer for 'they shot me dead'. seems like a parallel construction. – Claudiu Nov 1 '10 at 16:10
@Claudiu: See my answer below. "Dead" is an object-complement adjective (a quality of "me"). – Dennis Williamson Nov 1 '10 at 16:15
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The verb is an attributive ditransitive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ditransitive_verb

Tater Salad is a proper noun. It's in direct object position.

I'm not sure what POS Crazy is in sentence 2. I'm too lazy to think up many tests, but it seems to fail some tests for nouns and adjectives, eg.

* They call me crazier. 
* They call me craziest.
  • means, this sentence looks wrong. Adjectives usually take -er and -est.

Nouns usually can be plural or take "the" or "an"

They call me a crazy. 
? They call me the crazy. 
They call us crazies.

So my incomplete research says, crazy in that position acts more like a noun, but isn't the best example of a noun.

If you prefer POS by authority, then crazy is an adjective, because that is probably what the dictionary says.

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Thanks for "attributive ditransitive". That pointed me in the right direction. See my self-answer. – Dennis Williamson Oct 28 '10 at 4:08
ah in Russian it'd be simple enough, since you'd just inflect one of the nouns in an appropriate case =P (verbs can't have more than one direct object, and any other kind of object takes a different case than the accusative). – Claudiu Oct 28 '10 at 13:47
-1: It doesn't fail the test you provided for adjectives at all. The only reason "They call me crazier" or "They call me craziest" feel wrong is semantic in nature because the comparison is left out. "They call me crazier than him/a bat" is perfectly fine, and "They call me (the) craziest of them all" and both perfectly fine. I'm not actually arguing it's an adjective, I'm just speaking to your test. – ThePopMachine Jan 12 '12 at 17:15
... because another possible interpretation is that "They call me crazy." is a mention of "crazy", not a use. I.e. They call me "crazy". – ThePopMachine Jan 12 '12 at 17:16

The form of both of those sentences is:

Subject   Attributive-Ditransitive-Verb   Direct-Object   Object-Complement
 They                 call                    me            "Tater Salad"
 They                 call                    me            crazy
 She                  painted                 the house     blue
 He                   appointed               Bob           chief bottle washer


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ah yes you're right. this reference might be better, though; it makes much more sense. – Claudiu Nov 1 '10 at 16:48

The verb 'call' is one that allows for a direct object and an object complement. The object of 'call' is a noun phrase (noun or preposition) and the complement of that object can be another noun phrase or an adjective phrase. Here are some examples of similar verbs with two noun phrases in the predicate: "Call me Ishmael" (NP, NP). We thought him an idiot (NP, NP). We named Trina president (NP, NP).

Here are similar verbs with a NP as the direct object plus an adjective phrase: We found the whole thing pretty tedious (NP, AP). He called it inappropriate (NP, AP). She considers him stupid (NP, AP).

Notice that you could sort of imagine an underlying 'to be' stuck in between the two phrases: We thought him (to be) an idiot.... She considers him (to be) stupid.

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