|From:||Sally Caves <scaves@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, March 29, 2003, 23:44|
Joa~o has expressed some worries that too much of Conlang is off-topic. Okay, here's
a question I have about natural languages of the "active" persuasion. What
natural languages are considered "active," and why is this particular term
Why "active"? The term does not seem intuitive. Mea culpa, there was a huge long
thread about active languages just a few months ago, and I seem to have deleted
all of them. Now I have a need for information, and my little textbook at home
by Trask says only this:
A language in which subjects of both
transitive and intransitive verbs which
are semantically agents are treated
identically for grammatical purposes
while non-agent subjects and direct
objects are treated differently.
From this description, it sounds as though an active language has to be an
off-shoot of an ergative language. It goes on:
In some active languages lexical verbs
are rigidly divided into those taking agent
subjects and those taking non-agent
subjects; in others, some lexical verbs
can take either to denote, for example,
differing degrees of control over the action.
What would be an example of a non-lexical verb? I understand "lexical" to mean
"having REAL semantic content," but what puzzles me about some of this
terminology is that it will oppose things I see to be mutually inclusive:
semantic rather than syntactic, for instance, is a big category in describing
the difference between active and ergative forms. I thought that syntax
conveyed semantics. Naive me.
Are there any accusative languages that make a distinction between agent and
experiencer the way my Teonaht does with its "split nominative"?
One thing I was thinking of doing was dropping the final vowel off of nouns in
both the non-agent subject and the patient; most nouns in Teonaht end in a
vowel, as do most vowels:
Lorfa = "wolf."
Lorf rykken. "I see a wolf." Ol lorf lokken. "Me a wolf sees." Ol lorfa ke. "A wolf
looks at me."
However, I won't change the definite article to the patient case:
Ol il lorf lokken. "The wolf sees me." "Il lorf rykke." "I look at the wolf."
(In one of these cases, I'm supposed to lose my voice: if the wolf looks at me, I believe!)
Eskkoat ol ai sendran, rohsan nuehra celyil takrem bomai nakuo.
"My shadow follows me, putting strange, new roses into the world."
----- Original Message -----
From: João Ricardo Oliveira
Sent: Saturday, March 29, 2003 5:13 PM
Subject: Don't mean to offend, but...
Don't mean to offend, but there are TOO many off-topic posts in this group! I
spent some days without email and got 800 messages from CONLANG at once.