Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The set of verbs applicable to living organisms can also apply to other inanimate subjects like rain forests (e.g. resembled, looked) but I'd like to identify those verbs which are strictly applicable to living organisms.

Perhaps this is a better representation:

enter image description here

While it's possible for a forest to speak figuratively, I only want to focus on the literal use of these verbs. I want to identify the organism verbs, including human verbs. Oh, and deceased subjects that were once living should also be considered as organisms.

share|improve this question
2  
what about animals? –  Jim Apr 6 '12 at 3:06
2  
I don't think there are any. Any verb a human can do, a monkey, a robot, or a God can do. –  Mark Beadles Apr 6 '12 at 3:33
    
That's true, I can count "Lenny the monkey ate..." as a valid use of this kind of verb. I'm trying to identify between the names of people/pets and those of places/things. –  Aram Kocharyan Apr 6 '12 at 3:40
3  
You still have to distinguish between animate, volitional, and human. Not to mention physical from metaphorical. And active from stative, emotional from mental, and non-subject constructions like frightens me, not to my taste, or gives me goosebumps. –  John Lawler Apr 6 '12 at 5:05
3  
Try Linguistics. –  user14070 Apr 6 '12 at 15:06
show 1 more comment

1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I don't believe such a distinction can be drawn; anything can be personified to use any verb, at least metaphorically.

The sun can smile upon a child's summer day. Necessity can mother invention. Trees converse whenever the wind blows. The old mountain can swallow the inexperienced.

share|improve this answer
    
Hmm, I see your point and mentioned I was only considering literal uses of these verbs, but I doubt there such a concept from the comments above. Thanks alot, I guess I'll compile a list or something. –  Aram Kocharyan Apr 7 '12 at 7:50
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.