Re: What's an active language?
|From:||daniel andreasson <danielandreasson@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, September 11, 2002, 11:15|
Tim May wrote:
> | 3. Active System This system is essentially organised with
> | the agent of action versus the patient, regardless of the
> | transitivity of the verb. That is, the agent of an
> | intransitive verb is treated like the agent of a transative
> | verb, and the patient of an intransative verb is treated
> | like the patient in a transative verb. Let's see some
> | examples to help sort it out:
> | The window broke (intransative)
> | ACC
> | The child cried (intransative)
> | NOM
> | The child broke the window (transative)
> | NOM ACC
Hm. This isn't the clearest of explanations. This below is
the explanation I go by. Further down I explain some of the
reasons that some arguments get A-marking and some P-marking.
An active language is a language which organizes its core
grammar so that the argument of some one-place predicates is
marked like the A of a two-place predicate, while the argument
of the other one-place predicates is marked like the P of a
If the sole argument of a one-place (intransitive) predicate
(verb) is marked as A or P depends on the semantics (of either
the verb or the noun phrase).
My own investigations show that there are three reasons to
mark A's and P's differently.
i) event vs. state
iii) performance, effect and instigation
"Event vs. state" means that if the verb is an event (like
'run', 'dance', 'chat', 'kill'), then the argument is marked
like A. If it's a state ('be hungry', 'be tired'), then it's
marked like P.
"Control" means that if the argument of the verb is in control
of the event (or state), then it's marked as A. If it is not in
control, then it is marked as P. 'Go' and 'be careful' are
controlled predicates. 'Die' and 'fall' are not.
Then there's "performance, effect and instigation". Some
predicates are in some way performed or instigated by the
actor. However, they need not be controlled. These are verbs
like 'sneeze' and 'vomit'. In languages like Lakhota and
Georgian, it's enough if the actor in some way performs the
action (or state), (s)he doesn't need to be in control. Thus
the argument of predicates like 'sneeze' and 'hiccup' are
marked as A.
Languages of group ii) ("control") mark 'sneeze' and 'hiccup'
predicates as P.
Hope that was of help.
And as always, a little self-plug:
"You can't post that on the Internet, you don't even know if
it's true!" - Lisa Simpson to Homer.