2

The question is on le as highlighted in this excerpt from Candide by Voltaire.

Candide, tout stupéfait, ne démêlait pas encore trop bien comment il était un héros. Il s’avisa un beau jour de printemps de s’aller promener, marchant tout droit devant lui, croyant que c’était un privilège de l’espèce humaine, comme de l’espèce animale, de se servir de ses jambes à son plaisir. Il n’eut pas fait deux lieues que voilà quatre autres héros de six pieds qui l’atteignent, qui le lient, qui le mènent dans un cachot. On lui demanda juridiquement ce qu’il aimait le mieux d’être fustigé trente-six fois par tout le régiment, ou de recevoir à la fois douze balles de plomb dans la cervelle. Il eut beau dire que les volontés sont libres, et qu’il ne voulait ni l’un ni l’autre, il fallut faire un choix ; il se détermina, en vertu du don de Dieu qu’on nomme liberté, à passer trente-six fois par les baguettes ; il essuya deux promenades. Le régiment était composé de deux mille hommes ; cela lui composa quatre mille coups de baguette, qui, depuis la nuque du cou jusqu’au cul, lui découvrirent les muscles et les nerfs. Comme on allait procéder à la troisième course, Candide, n’en pouvant plus, demanda en grâce qu’on voulût bien avoir la bonté de lui casser la tête ; il obtint cette faveur ; on lui bande les yeux ; on le fait mettre à genoux.

Question

Which of these is right?

  1. le is the object of fait and the agent of mettre.

  2. le is the object of mettre

Background

My guess is reading 2, by which one would assimilate the sentence to these samples, which are found in this this guidance on faire + infinitive.

Je fais laver la voiture.

Il fait réparer la machine.

In these samples the object of faire, which would also be the agent of laver or réparer, is suppressed. But we know that it would be some washer or mechanic.

In the same way, there was a suppression of the object of faire and the agent of mettre in our sentence, but we know it is Candide.

Anyway, that is my guess.

In this earlier post, however, we find an idea which, when applied to our case, might give us a version of reading 1: namely, that mettre is actually in a passive or "middle" voice. (The sentences about la voiture and la machine can also be read this way.)

As a guide to the meaning of the sentence, I would be happy to accept either view.

So my question asks what is the standard analysis of our sentence, the one, as it were, I should give on an exam.

  • @Stéphane Gimenez I think both the answer I got are pointing to the "middle" voice idea (which you advanced in response to another question of mine). The advantage of this idea would be that the Voltaire sentence and sentences like Je fais laver la voiture can be assimilated. "Get itself washed" and "get himself put to the knee" and so on. Any thoughts? – Catomic Jan 11 '16 at 3:44
2

I think the formulation of the question leads to unnecessary opposition between concurring views.

Question

Which of these is right?

  1. le is the object of fait and the agent of mettre.

  2. le is the object of mettre

They probably are both right.

In (1), Jean is forced to wash himself, kneel and pray. le is the object of faire, the agent of laver, mettre, prier and also the patient of the two reflexives laver, mettre.

In (2) and (3), Paul is made to wash people and make them kneel. le and lui refer to the agent of laver, mettre, while le seems to be a direct object of faire and lui an indirect object.

  1. Pour que Jean soit prêt, le prêtre le fait laver, mettre à genoux et prier.
  2. Pour occuper Paul, on le fait laver et mettre à genoux les gens autour de la fontaine pour qu'ils puissent prier
  3. Pour occuper Paul, on lui fait laver et mettre à genoux les gens autour de la fontaine pour qu'ils puissent prier

Without direct objects, lui is not felicitous:

  1. On le fait manger vs #On lui fait manger
  2. On le fait asseoir vs *On lui fait asseoir

This lui has to do with the construction faire faire quelque chose (à quelqu'un):

  • On fait raconter cette histoire aux enfants
  • On fait raconter cette histoire à Paul
  • On fait raconter cette histoire aux enfants à Paul
  • On lui fait raconter cette histoire aux enfants

The le, on the other hand, is part of a different construction where the control verb faire shares its direct object with the following infinitive to give it a subject:

  • On fait manger Paul
  • On le fait manger

In this construction, reflexive usually lose their reflexive clitic even for intrinsically reflexive verbs such as s'évanouir:

  • L'émotion a fait mettre à genoux Paul & ?L'émotion a fait se mettre à genoux Paul
  • L'émotion l'a fait mettre à genoux & ?L'émotion l'a fait se mettre à genoux

  • L'émotion a fait évanouir Paul & ?L'émotion a fait s'évanouir Paul

  • L'émotion l'a fait évanouir & ?L'émotion l'a fait s'évanouir

In these cases, le seems to be the direct object of faire and both the subject and direct object of the infinitive.

  • Thanks. I have a bunch of questions. Q1. On the two sentences beginning with Pour occuper Paul: You are saying they are two equally valid ways to say the same thing. Right? Q2. On the sentence beginning with Pour occuper Paul, on lui: lui is felicitous in it because there is a direct object, viz. les gens. Right? Q3. On On fait raconter cette histoire aux enfants: Is it ambiguous between having an unspecified person tell the story to the children vs. having the children tell the story (to an unspecified hearer)? Q4. On On fait raconter cette histoire à Paul: same question. – Catomic Jan 12 '16 at 11:53
  • Q5. On On fait raconter cette histoire aux enfants à Paul: Is it unambiguously having Paul narrate to the children? In other words, is the last mentioned always the agent when you have à X à Y? Q6. On the four pairs of sentences beginning with L'émotion: Is each pair supposed to be the same sentence except that one of them has lost the reflexive clitic? That is to say, is there no difference in meaning or even nuance (as between the pair)? – Catomic Jan 12 '16 at 11:57
  • Q1: yes. Q2: yes, it is felicitous when the infinitive has a direct object (the object can be implied, #on lui fait manger would be correct with an implied object). Q3/Q4: they are both ambiguous, my point being that they can be used together to fill the indirect object of the control verb and that of the infinitive. Q5: I would not be too sure about the roles possible without hearing the structure but the default would be agent last. Q6: in each pair, the one with se is marked, the default would be without se. I'm not sure what the difference would be, maybe register. – GAM PUB Jan 12 '16 at 12:13
  • Thanks again! The suggestion that the answers were essentially "concurring" views and the idea of le being both subject and object of the infinitive were very helpful. I think I now have as much insight into the Voltaire sentence as I could wish to have as a student of French (as opposed to a theorist). – Catomic Jan 12 '16 at 12:30
1

In on le fait mettre à genoux, le is a third person pronoun and the direct object (named agent in the causative constructions like this one) of faire mettre à genoux.

Faire is here a semi-auxiliary and mettre à genoux the action (infinitive). The agent (the one being made to act) is le = Candide.

− Qui fait-on [se] mettre à genoux ?

− Lui.

= On fait mettre Candide à genoux.

Note: The reflexive pronoun se can be omitted in these sentences. This is a correct and usual form with factitive verbs like faire.

Note 2: Reference supporting the fact an agent can be a direct object, from french.about.com

Objects and object pronouns

The causative construction always has a direct object, which may be either the receiver or the agent.

When replacing the direct object with an object pronoun, that pronoun is placed in front of faire.

  • Thanks. But I think you are saying that le is the direct object of faire rather than of faire mettre à genoux. You are not proposing that we look upon faire mettre à genoux as some primitive unit capable of taking an object; this is clear from your allowing se (while saying that it can be omitted). Is this right? – Catomic Jan 11 '16 at 3:33
  • Faire mettre à genoux is a compound primitive unit equivalent to faire s'agenouiller. It definitely has a subject, on, and an object le = Candide. – jlliagre Jan 11 '16 at 4:48
  • 1
    faire mettre à genoux does not seem to be a unit. faire can be used with other verbs with the same structure: on le fait prier, on le fait habiller, on le fait laver... In these cases, le seem to be both the patient of faire and the agent of the second verb... Note that these (intransitives and reflexives) work with le while transitive verbs prefer lui. While mettre à genoux works independently of faire: la récession a mis l'économie à genoux. – GAM PUB Jan 11 '16 at 20:54
  • @GAMPUB faire is a semi-auxiliary here, answer updated. I understand le to be the agent only. – jlliagre Jan 11 '16 at 21:52
  • @jilliagre I am confused by your allowing le to be the "agent (the one being made to act)" but denying le being the subject of mettre (in your comments to guillaume's answer). Maybe I should ask what you would say about Je fais rire ma soeur: For example, (a) ma soeur is the object of fais rire and the agent (the one made to laugh) but not the subject of rire or (b) ma soeur is the object of fais and subject of rire. – Catomic Jan 12 '16 at 2:39
0

1 In On le fait mettre ...

le is subject of verb mettre .

It is more clear like that:

  • Je fais monter mon père.
  • Je fais pleurer ma mère.
  • Je fais rire ma soeur.

You can use several verbs: laisser, regarder,

Je laisse monter mon père (or mon père monter), Je regarde pleurer ma mère.

2 the phrase is a little incorrect because the form is pronominal: se mettre à genoux.

It should be:

On le fait se mettre à genoux.

3 But you could have also mettre à genoux as transitive, like mettre à terre, mettre/clouer au pilori.

On le met à genoux.

Then On le fait mettre à genoux = On fait en sorte que quelqu'un (d'autre) le mette à genoux.

4 In "laver la voiture", "Réparer la machine", it is clearly a COD. There is an unknown subject:

On fait en sorte que quelqu'un lave la voiture.

  • I see this as giving essentially the same answer as the other one by jlliagre. I have not downvoted it. Whoever did it should have given the reason. Maybe the attribution of incorrectness? – Catomic Jan 11 '16 at 3:37
  • 1
    @ Catomic, I'm perplexed by your comment about our answers being essentially the same. Sorry Guillaume, no offense but I'm afraid I contradict both main points of this answer. le being a subject of mettre, vs le being an object of fait mettre à genoux, and the fact se being a little incorrect while I wrote it is correct and common in that specific case. – jlliagre Jan 11 '16 at 20:27
  • @jlliagre My comment came from seeing both answers as opposing my own initial "guess," namely that le was the object of mettre. I do understand that the points in which you differ from guillaume are significant. Apologies if my characterization was careless. – Catomic Jan 12 '16 at 2:24
  • @jiliagre. try with "on le fait tomber". tomber is not transitive. with mettre à genoux, there is also point 3, as an expression => where le is the COD. – guillaume girod-vitouchkina Jan 12 '16 at 17:44

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