Why is "and the accordion used to touch her chin" translated as "et l'accordéon lui touchait le menton" and not as "et l'accordéon la touchait le menton"?
When toucher is used with a noun as an object the pronoun is "la", e.g. "it touches Marie" is "ça touche Marie" and "it touches her" is "ça la touche" so why is "lui" correct in the case above? It seems to imply that the verb was "toucher à".
Here, this is case of two verbs with different meanings -
Toucher = to affect
Votre attention la touche énormément = Your thoughtfulness touches her enormously
which requires a direct object.
In the case of the accordéon,
It is a bit like if you said -
‘ Le coup de pied lui a cassé la dent ‘ = The blow broke her tooth
( literally the blow broke her the tooth)
So ‘lui’ is required here as it is the indirect object ...
Hope this helps!
It is quite tricky and not easy at all to explain but we wouldn't say 'touchait son menton' ...
Maybe the following lesson will bring light to this strange way of talking about parts of the body....
Hope this is a bit clearer...
Thank you Cecile.
I am not sure that your answer helps but it did cause me to look at the issue again.
I consulted this page: https://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais-anglais/toucher/77701 which lists over 20 meanings for toucher.
The case we are discussing seems to be closest to the 7th meaning for the verb toucher à.
The meaning being "reach" [atteindre - un point dans l'espace] e.g. le navire touche au port ce soir.
Although I am still not sure why it might not have been closest to the meaning A2 of the verb toucher, i.e. to touch [entrer en contact avec], e.g. ma main touche sa main
However I am reading the French translation of the first Harry Potter book and in it I find the following: "Il n'osera pas toucher à toi" which I take to mean "he will not dare to lay a hand on you". So that is another example of toucher à but still seems to differ from the sense used in "touch her chin".
Ok. Forget the previous 2 replies. I would delete them if the system allowed that. I understand my error. Nothing to do with "toucher à". The verb already has a direct object ("le menton") so "la" would not be appropriate here. However I am not sure why the construction "lui touchait le menton" is used and not "touchait son menton". Would they both be equally valid? Is that covered in one of the lessons here?
I am familiar with the use of le-la-les with body parts. Perhaps I should have said "touchait le menton". My concern in this case was more with the use of lui which seems to be providing an indirect object to the verb touchait. All the discussions of indirect object, including this one (Using lui/leur = him or her/them (French Indirect Object Pronouns)) talk about verbs that use à which is not the case here.
I see "lui toucher qqn" being used in many examples at https://www.linguee.fr/francais-anglais/search?source=auto&query=lui+toucher such as "Votre chien ne vous laisse pas lui toucher sa tête" so I know it is a valid construction. It just seems to me that the explanation about indirect object or use of lui must be a bit more complex than that at https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/my-languages/french/view/710.
Suppose I say "I touch David's head. I touch his head", i.e. Je touch la tête de David. Je lui touch la tête ". What is lui here? Is it still an indirect object? It is replacing the adjectival phrase "de David". Wouldn't this be an example of a different rule? Is there a lesson that relates to that rule?
They are just strange constructions ...
In your example 'la tête' would be the direct object and 'lui' , the indirect object replacing David ...
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