No, I don't agree. You can't say "they called me liar" any more than you can say "I am liar." The only way you could do it would be to think of "liar" as a direct quotation:But structurally speaking, an objective predicative complement (that is, the element modifying the direct object 'me") can be an adjective (they called me selfish), a bare noun phrase (they called me liar) or a noun phrase with a determiner (they called me a liar). The difference between "liar" and "a liar" is semantic: with the addition of the indefinite article "a," the speaker puts the person represented by "me" in the class of "liars," so that "me" represents one entity of that class. (In fact, "a" is the reduced form of "an" from Old English meaning "one.")
That would be my feeling too, like you were quoting.No, I don't agree. You can't say "they called me liar" any more than you can say "I am liar." The only way you could do it would be to think of "liar" as a direct quotation:
They called me "liar."
Even then it's not natural.
No. It doesn't matter how you try to break it down grammatically: "they called me liar" doesn't work. The word liar is derived from the verb "to lie", whereas the word "king" is not derived from any infinitive source--which may explain why you can say "they called me king" (identification). I loved your explanation, by the way---(identification versus description)---but you can't extend that to everything just based on the part of speech of the words involved. The expression "a liar" means "one who is a liar", and in this case, that indefinite article is needed for the "one who is" quality to be present.They call me liar ~ they call me president ~ they call me spaceman; they call me suspect; all these have a bare noun properly functioning as objective predicative complement, and adding "a" makes class-member reference (a liar = member of the class of liars). I don't see how the label "incorrect" fits here, though I wouldn't argue as to what sounds natural or not. But let's not mix syntactic categories; noun phrases face certain restrictions when they function as subject complements. When noun phrases assign a characteristic to the subject, they are generally non-referential and thus indefinite, which draws in the indefinite pronoun: I am a liar. As bare nouns without a determiner, they typically need modifiers (I am liar enough). On the other hand, when noun phrases identify rather then describe the subject, they have more freedom (I am king; I am president), though modifiers can be added as well (I am king of the world).