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Re: Patient marking in active languages

From:Carsten Becker <carbeck@...>
Date:Sunday, February 19, 2006, 13:29
From: "caeruleancentaur" <caeruleancentaur@...>
Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2006 2:35 AM

> This may be so with the other verbs you mentioned, but my > personal experience is that riding a horse is not at all > a passive activity! Nor is riding a bicycle as I see it! > :-)
Agreed, but I think he rather means how Active languages handle passives. So first, consider the following: [I] [ride] [a horse] A V P Is an active sentence with A = agent, V = verb, P = patient. In English, the _passive_ form of this sentence is [A horse] [is ridden] [(by me)] P V A where the A argument can be omitted. In ergative languages, there is something called _antipassive_, but I don't know which construction this would produce, unfortunately -- maybe the absolutive object can be omitted? However, in accusative-language-style passives, the object of a sentence is made the subject, while the original subject becomes oblique, i.e. it is not crucial to form a valid sentence. This is called "valency-decreasing" if I remember correctly. So, I am not a pro in Linguistics, but I know that purely accusative languages arrange their cases as [S A] [P], while purely ergative ones have [S] [A P], where S is the single argument of an intransitive clause, and A and P as above. Active languages have both arrangements, i.e. [S A] [S P], depending on whether a verb is classified as active or not (stative, passive, I don't know how you best call it). According to Daniel Andréasson, there exist three distinctions that this difference in classification can be based on: whether it's an event (±E), whether the action is performed, effected or instigated (±P/E/I) (whatever that means) or whether it's controlled or not (±C). Languages can mix these three criteria. Accordingly, active languages (i.e. fluid-S ones) may either work like English and German and such and have a passive voice, or they have an antipassive voice, or have both depending on the classification of the verb, or have none. Additional to agents and patients, I have got experiencers in Tarsyanian, which would exactly match the subject of passive sentences. I hope this helped at least a little. Yours, Carsten Becker