Re: Agents and patients
|Date:||Wednesday, March 15, 2000, 13:58|
Jens_Daniel Persson <stockbaum@...> wrote:
>... or let the verb agree with whatever's in topic in a sentence....
>The verb will then agree with the part-of-speech that is highest on the
>hierarchy and present in the sentence
I've decided to do both things, actually: topic, first constituent
and first in hierarchy will always be the same (see my previous
post). Topics are fronted; but you can't front anything if it
breaks the hierarchy, so you must change the case first. It makes
for some easy patterns: AGT/PAT/DAT/OBL becomes 1/2/3/4, and
sentences come like this (numbers are case of the constituent):
1 (2) = volitional (transitive or not)
3 4 = trans, non-volitional
2 (generally) = intransitive, non-volitional
2 4 = volitional, patient is topic ('passive')
agent (case 1) is demoted to oblique (case 4)
2 3 = non-volitional; oblique (= source, case 4) is
promoted to patient (case 2).
The verb agrees with the topic, which is the highest in
the hierarchy. It looks a bit strange to me, I must confess,
since I'm conditioned from birth to subject agreement (or
S-O double agreement at most)...
... I cannot combine any characters that the divine Library
has not foreseen, which in some of its secret tongues do not
bear some terrible meaning. No-one can articulate a syllable
not filled of caresses and fears, that is not, in some one
of those languages, the powerful name of a god...
Jorge Luis Borges, _The Library of Babel_