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Re: Ergativity

From:takatunu <takatunu@...>
Date:Saturday, August 9, 2003, 6:52
There are verbs whose agents are also undergoing the same process as their
patient as if they were "transitive" in both semantic and mathematical ways
:-) "X gets verbing and this verbing makes Y verbing too". Example:

"The fire burns the wood. The wood is burning. The house is burning down."

Personally I find it hard to draw a line between "semantic" and "syntactic"
categories of "agent" and "patient". "Syntactic" AGT usually refers to some
guy gifted with brain and/or will, and PAT to some impotent slug (cf.
animate/inanimate categories)--which are just another pair of "semantic"

Phillip Driscoll wrote:
But what do we do with sentence 2?  If we treat it as intransitive
and mark it as

  2. Robert-<abs>  cooked.

this would give the impression that Robert underwent the same
type of experience as the rice, i.e. he was boiled until tender.
Clearly sentence 2 would need to be marked as

  2. Robert-<erg>  cooked.

to give the sense that Robert was performing the action of cooking
and was not being cooked. Clearly for a sentence to be intransitive,
the subject needs to be the patient (whether or not it's also the =

--Phillip Driscoll


Chris Bates <christopher.bates@...>