Re: Participles in ergative languages
|From:||Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, October 18, 2006, 2:27|
On Oct 16, 2006, at 4:44 PM, Patrick Littell wrote:
> On 10/16/06, Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...> wrote:
>> The important distinction is whether the participle denotes the
>> agent of
>> the verb or denotes the patient of the verb. While this
>> reasonably could
>> be labeled a distinction of voice, I don't see why the voice-
>> labels applied
>> to participles necessarily have to be exactly the same as the
>> applied to finite verbs in the same language.
>> If you use "agentive participles" and "patientive participles"
>> of "active participles" and "passive participles" (or "antipassive
>> participles" and "absolutive(?) participles"), you'll avoid any
>> That's only one idea, but it's the best one I've come up with so far.
> A good start, but I think "agentive" and "patientive" would mean
> something different. For example, I believe agentive nominalization
> in English (-er) requires that the verb take an argument with an agent
> (or instrument) role:
> He bites the dog -> He is a biter.
> He walks -> He is a walker.
> He arrives -> ??He is an arriver.
> (Meanwhile, the "patientive" nominalization (-ee) (is that the word
> for it?) requires a patient... we can make the noun "walkee" but it
> can't mean "one who walks", only "one who is walked".)
Actually, I have run across a paper on the net about using -ee with
intransitive verbs that take a patient subject, although I can't find
it now. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergative-
"John has retired." -> "John is a retiree."
"John has escaped." -> "John is an escapee."
"John is standing." -> "John is a standee."
"Retiree" and "escapee" don't seem odd to me, probably because they
occur fairly often. "Standee", however, seems a bit odd. In my
idiolect (just like yours, from the sounds of it), the tendency to
add -ee to intransitive verbs is not productive.
> But an active participle isn't really "agentive"; it's more
> "nominative", in that it treats intransitive subject like a transitive
> subject whether its an agent or a patient:
> He bites the dog -> Biting the dog, he made journalistic history.
> He walks -> Walking down the street, he saw an accident.
> He arrives -> Arriving in the nick of time, he prevented certain
> The passive participle, on the other hand, won't describe the subject
> even if the subject is a semantic patient:
> He bites the dog -> Bitten by the man, the dog made journalistic
> He arrives -> *Arrived in the nick of time, he prevented certain
> Anyway, we can look at nominalizations and participles in the same
> sort of way we do verb alignment: English has nominative-accusative
> alignment in its participle system but a Split- or Fluid-S system for
> its argument-referencing nominalizations. As you said above, there's
> no a priori reason that these different subsystems have to match the
> alignment of the finite verb system.
I'm inclined to accept that they might not match, pending evidence
from natlangs. Sounds reasonable to me, though.
> I think your basic idea is good. We could adopt the following
> An agentive nominalization denotes the agent-like argument. (-er)
> A patientive nominalization denotes the patient-like argument. (-ee)
> A nominative nominalization denotes transitive subjects and
> intransitive subjects.
> An accusative nominalization denotes transitive objects only.
> An ergative nominalization denotes transitive subjects only.
> An absolutive nominalization denotes transitive objects and
> intransitive subjects.
> And similarly for participles.
> -- Pat