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Today USns celebrate Independence Day. In 1776 John Adams, later to be the second president of the US, wrote his wife Abigail,
    It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
In hono(u)r of the day, we'll look this week at some of the terms for those "bonfires and illuminations", the fireworks that traditionally close the Fourth of July celebration.

chrysanthemum shell – a spherical burst, in which the stars leave a visible trail
(contrast peony shell, in which the stars do not leave a trail)

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I notice that, rather than write a letter, Mr Adams decided to write a wife. The dropping of the "to" from "wrote to" in US English has always struck me as odd. Is this the only occasion when this happens? I don't recall hearing of people who spoke their wife, for instance.
 
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We have discussed ditransitive verbs here before. The upshot is in the States (and Canada, too), we turned write into one, rather than not as in the UK. Just one of the many differences that unite our languages.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
Is this the only occasion when this happens? I don't recall hearing of people who spoke their wife, for instance
Interesting question.

I sang my wife a song of love.
I sent her a bouquet of flowers.


Oh, what a good husband I am. Big Grin
 
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I'm a bit confused by "write" being a ditranstive verb.

I wrote my wife a song.
I sang my wife a song.

I wrote my wife.
* I sang my wife.

Obviously there is some difference between these two verbs. Is there a term describing a ditransitive word which takes an optional second argument?
 
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The fireworks you see outdoors are generally shells.

shell – the most spectacular of fireworks comprising a lifting charge (to propel the shell into the air) and a bursting charge to eject stars or subassemblies in the air after a predetermined delay
ground burst – a low level burst of a shell; potentially very dangerous

What kind of firework would not be a shell? Here is an example.
gerb – a firework that throws out a shower of sparks. [French gerb sheaf of corn (wheat?)]
 
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quote:
Originally posted by zmjezhd:
We have discussed ditransitive verbs here before. The upshot is in the States (and Canada, too), we turned write into one, rather than not as in the UK. Just one of the many differences that unite our languages.


I guess my question was really is this the only such difference between US and UK English?
 
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Here's some information from The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffry Pullum:

quote:
8.2 Ditransitive / monotransitive contrasts

8.2.1 Type I: I gave her the key vs I gave the key to her

The indirect object generally expresses arguments with the semantic role of recipient, and these arguments are all commonly expressed by PPs headed by to and for respectively. We distinguish five verb classes according to which of the following constructions they license: ditransitive, monotrasitive with to phrase, monotrasitive with for phrase.

[42]

IO + DO
i.a. I gave her the key.
ii.a. *I explained her the problem.
iii.a. I bought her a hat.
iv.a. *I borrowed her the money.
v.a. I spared her the trouble.
DO + non-core comp
i.b. I gave the key to her. [IO or to]
ii.b. I explained the problem to her. [to only]
iii.b. I bought a hat for her. [IO or for]
iv.b. I borrowed the money for her. [for only]
v.b. *I spared the trouble to/for her. IO only]

The (a) examples are ditransitive, whereas the (b) ones are monotransitives containing a non-core complement after the direct object. Examples of verbs belonging to the five classes are given in:

[43]

i. IO or to: award, bequeath, bring, cable, deny, feed, give, hand, kick, leave, lend, offer, owe, past, post, promise, read, sell, send, show, take, teach, tell, throw, write.

ii. to only: announce, confess, contribute, convery, declare, deliver, donate, exhibit, explain, mention, narrate, refer, return, reveal, say, submit, transfer.

iii, IO or for: bake, build, buy, cook, design, fetch, find, get, hire, leave, make, order, reach, rent, reserve, save (1), sing, spare (1), write.

iv. for only: acquire, borrow, collect, compose, fabricate, obtain, recover, retrieve, withdraw.

v. IO only: allow, begrudge, bet, charge, cost, envy, excuse, fine, forgive, permit, refuse, save (2), spare (2), strike, tax, tip, wish.

The subscripts [numbers within parentheses] indicate different senses. For leave we have He left (1) everything to his wife ("bequeathed"), Class (i), and I've left (2) some spaghetti for you, etc.


[Added more information.]

quote:
IO not found in canonical clauses without DO

In canonical clauses containing just one object, that object is always a direct object, even if it corresponds semantically to the indirect object of a ditransitive clause.

[14]

i. She teaches the first-year students introductory logic. [IO + DO]
ii. She teaches introductory logic. [DO with semantic role of ditransitive DO]
iii. She teaches the first-year students. [DO with semantic role of ditransitive IO]

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Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Interesting etymology today.

maroon – an exploding device that produces a loud bang
[from French marron chestnut (from the noise they make in a fire)]
 
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A maroon makes a loud noise. Here is another noisemaker.

hummer – a device that produces a humming sound. It is usually a sealed tube and pierced near each end on opposite sides, so that the sound is made as the device spins rapidly in flight
whizzer – an American name for a hummer
 
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tourbillion1. lit. or fig.: a whirling mass or system; a vortex; a whirl; an eddy, a whirlpool. 2. a firework which spins as it rises, forming a spiral or scroll of fire.
[from F. for 'whirlwind'; ultimately from Gr. 'noise, confusion'. accent on second syllable]
    Franklin would swear that an American "set down in the tourbillion of such a great city as Paris must necessarily be for some days half out of his senses." He knew of what he spoke …
    – Stacy Schiff, A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America

    Aerial maroons, bombshells filled with stars, rockets fizzing in tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands, Roman candles, electric spray, tourbillions and diamond dust lit the night sky…
    – Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: [etc.]
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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quote:
– Stacy Schiff, A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America


I'm reading another work by Schiff, a biography of St-Exupery. I like her style.
 
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brocade – a star that burns long, so that it leaves down-drooping trails of light as it falls
kamuro – like a brocade, but leaving longer trails; a sort of "weeping willow" effect

These two are from a 'fireworks' source; I am unable to confirm them. Other sources indicate that in Japanese, a kamuro is "a young female attendant in child-age of a high ranking prostitute," sort of a courtesan-in-training.
 
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