A question of "sia"
I am wondering what the pronom "sia" is referring to in this sentence: "La mastro ordonas la servanton lavi sian vestojn." Here the "sian" is referring to "la servanton" or the "mastro"?
"La mastro ordonas la servanton lavi lian vestojn". Here the "lian" is referring to "la servanton" or the "mastro" or the other third person?
Why would a master ask the servant to wash the servant's clothing? "sian" means : "his own", "her own", "its own" or"their own" and "lian" means "his". Keep in mind that "la" is the definite article for both males and females and that all nouns end in -o. I think though that using "sian" does mean that the servant is to wash "his own clothes" while using "lian" would mean that the servant is to wash the master's clothes, but this is as ambiguous as it is in English and we could be talking about a third person's clothes that the master has ordered his servant to wash. Otherwise the master should be quoted as asking the servant "Wash my clothes." or "Wash your clothes." or "Wash my friend's clothes." http://en.lernu.net/lernado/gramatiko/konciza/pronomoj.php
Thanks for your valuable comments! I know the sentence that I made up doesn't pragmatically make sense because a master would not possibly ask the servant to wash the servant's clothing. I just want to know if there is an unambiguous meaning or grammatical rule for this esperanto sentence "A ordonas/demandas al B fari (lian/sian) ion" . However, I would rather think that this is an ambiguous sentence as it is in English. I just want to know if anyone else has different opinions.
The pronoun si refers to the subject of the verb. As the verb si refers to in this case is lavi, I believe the si would refer to the servant.
You have my blessing here. "Si" in the example sentence clearly and unambiguously refers to the subject of "lavi" -- i.e. the servant.
Here's what I understand of the word "sia":
The word "sia(j)(n)" always refers to the subject of the sentence. If there is more than one subject, it refers to the subject of the verb with which it is used (which is often the closest subject.)
La mastro ordonas la servanton lavi siajn vestojn. (The vestojn belong to the subject of ordonas, which is la mastro. They do not belong to la servanton, because la servanton is not the subject of the sentence.)
La mastro ordonas la servanton lavi liajn vestojn. (The vestojn does not belong to the subject of ordonas, so it either belongs to la servanton or another person.)
I don't think your sentence is wrong, but to be honest, the construct "...ordonas la servanton lavi la vestojn..." seems a bit awkward to me, as there are two direct objects (which end in "n"). If I were saying this, I'd prefer to use a subjunctive clause and write it as:
- La mastro ordonas ke la servanto lavu la vestojn. (The master orders that the servant wash the clothes.)
Using this construct, replacing "la" with "siajn" results in:
- La mastro ordonas ke la servanto lavu siajn vestojn. (The vestojn belong to the subject of lavu, which is la servanto. They do not belong to la mastro, because it is la servanto (and not la mastro) that is the proper subject of lavu.)
While replacing "la" with "liajn" results in:
- La mastro ordonas ke la servanto lavu liajn vestojn. (The vestojn belong to either la mastro or another person. They cannot belong to la servanto, because if they did, the word siajn would have been used instead.)
I hope this clears things up. But remember, I'm human and could therefore be mistaken about this. If someone disagrees with me, they may be right about me being wrong.
...and some of what I just posted above seems to go against what ashbolt posted concerning the PMEG.
So, um, take what I said with a grain of salt.
Though I think what I said about the form with the subjunctive ("La mastro ordonas ke la servanto lavu la vestojn") is still correct.
In fact, following the PMEG example, it would be better to write your example as:
- La mastro ordonas al la servanto lavi siajn/liajn vestojn. (The master gives orders to the servant to wash his clothes.)
That way, nobody gets confused as to why there are two direct objects.
So if "siajn" is used, then (from what I gather of the PMEG example) it refers to la servanto. On the other hand, if "liajn" is used, it either refers to la mastro or another person.