I like you, you like me….

When we find that English ‘like’ used to work like Spanish ‘gustar’, i.e. to say ‘The king likes the queen’ in Old English, we’d have to say, “The queen likes the king” just as Spanish would have to say, “Al rey le gusta la reina”, i.e. the queen is pleasing to the king. Eventually in English the shift occurred where ‘like’ became a transitive verb with the subject being the one who is pleased by something, the object of ‘like’, thus: My mother likes daffodils, in Old English, Daffodils like my mother. Even in Spanish, Gustas una cerveza? for Would you like a beer, i.e. with gustar in the ‘you’ form, is common. That’s confusing and a trifle irritating for those of us who worked so hard to get our heads switched around from the English pattern of You like beer to Spanish Beer pleases you.
But I heard something the other day that shows this mixing up and turning around verbs is not so uncommon. Speaking of witnesses, someone said “Questions were being peppered at them”. Obviously what was meant was “They were being peppered with questions.” The use of “at” shows a full conversion of the phrase, making ‘to pepper someone with questions’ into ‘to pepper questions (at someone)’. Here the direct object of the verb ‘pepper’ is no longer the person but the questions. How does this happen?
The issue with ‘like’ has to do with the eroding of case endings where subject and object can be confused. Eventually, it was felt that the ‘liking’ was being done by a subject rather than an object, and thus the transitive verb ‘to like’ was born.
I hope others have deeper explanations to offer.

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