Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: THEORY: transitivity

From:Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 21, 2004, 19:10
Thomas R. Wier wrote:

>From: "J. 'Mach' Wust" <j_mach_wust@...> > > >>>Paul Hopper and Sandra Thompson wrote an excellent article in the early >>>80s (Language, Vol. 56, no. 2) entitled "Transitivity in Grammar >>>and Discourse". Therein they list 10 (!) different criteria that >>>languages use to encode transitivity, and they show that transitivity >>>is really more of a cline than a discrete proposition. >>> >>> >[...] > > >>>So, if we've decided to lump things as transitive or intransitive, >>>I would say 'folgen' is transitive. >>> >>> >>So you prefer underlying structure to morphology, semantic transitivity to >>overtly encoded transitivity? >> >> > >The point is that it is not clear what a 'transitive' construction >really is outside of such criteria. The fact that a verb has two arguments >does not automatically imply that one is a subject and one an object, >since in some languages various kinds of tests (passivization, e.g.) >show the second one to be some kind of oblique. Georgian has a whole >class of verbs which are syntactically and morphologically intransitive, >but they obligatorily take an oblique dative-marked argument (the >verb for 'to hit' it like this). > >
I keep mentioning basque, but basque does this (in a weird way). In some dialects, the progressive construction (with "ari") involves always using an intransitive auxilliary even when the main verb form itself is transitive, with both the principal arguments occuring in the absolutive case for a transitive verb. In some of the dialects though (according to what I was reading), this is changing... I suspect "ari" was originally a verb form which was treated intransitively, but is being transformed into a grammatical particle, but I know nothing about the evolution of the basque language, so I could be wrong.