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Agents and patients I & II

From:Jim Grossmann <steven@...>
Date:Thursday, March 16, 2000, 4:54
>Yes, I do; and no, since the "p" in "3p" already means "plural"! :)
Oops! I naively assumed that the "p" stood for "person."
>I understand the idea of syntactic vs. semantic, and I've been >careful not to pay too much attention (in my mind) to subject >and object, since they cannot be biunivocally matched with agent >and patient in themselves. I'll be sure to use semantic terms >instead of syntactic for the rest, just to make things clear, >but I'm afraid it will complicate the issue even more (adding >more lexicon to the explanation, and having to match semantic >terms with the corresponding syntactic ones -- agent and patient >are quite intuitive, but source, goal, beneficiary, etc. are >not so).
Well, sometimes adding vocabulary to the explanation makes explanations more economical. I think that if you stick with four case names, subjective, objective, dative, and ablative, and then explain how each is interpreted in a given clause pattern, your audience, who will be mostly other conlangers, will have no trouble understanding you.
>Yes, exactly as I thought; just shifting word order would >be enough.
>>On the other hand, if nouns that stand for experiencers have a different >>case than nouns that stand for agents, would the former be subject to the >>same transformations as the latter? You may want to restrict the use of >>passive voice to clauses whose verbs stand for honest-to-god actions and >>whose arguments include honest-to-god agents and patients.
>I'll try and see what my native speakers say. They are >becoming really confused now. :)
On the other hand, you could just change the order of the cases and forget what I said about passives. :)
>Oh, that was not the idea... I only sat down and wrote some >examples, and this thing popped out; AGT / PAT for 'active' >sentences (especially volitional verbs), PAT / ABL for >perception verbs, ABL / DAT for passive perception: the >scale AGT / PAT / ABL / DAT, from more active to less >active (or stative, like 'being seen'). The *names* of >the cases are probably not a good choice.
This nice scheme will make your basic clause patterns and cases easier for the learner to remember.
>I've now changed this hierarchy, and I'm trying to assign >proper names to each case.
1, 2, 3, 4 = AGT, PAC, DAT, ABL could be 1, 2, 3, 4 = AGT, PAC, EXP, OBL (EXP = experiencer; OBL = general oblique, probably source too, and also demoted agent). NPs in a sentence must follow this order; gaps are allowed, but you can't shift orders without shifting cases. This double shift also serves to mark topicality (still not sure about voice; I think there won't be any mark on verbs, since the following structure seems to suffice). Some examples: Active volitional agent uses case 1: cat.1 mouse.2 kill 'cat kills mouse' In passive sentences, case 1 gets demoted to 4, which also brings the patient to the front (topical position): mouse.2 cat.4 kill *'from cat kill mouse' 'mouse is killed by cat' Non-volitional agents/experiencers use case 3, while their patients use case 4. The actual meaning of verbs using this construction may be different from the glosses. cat.3 mouse.4 see *'to cat see from mouse' 'cat sees mouse' In 'passive' sentences, there's a promotion of the syntactic object (no demotion of subject!): the patient becomes case 2, and topic: mouse.2 cat.3 see *'see mouse to cat' 'mouse is seen by cat'
>What does this look like? I personally think it's neat (the >hierarchical order really helps!).
Looks GREAT! I like the numerical names for the cases. Now let's see how you handle clauses with copular and existential verbs. Jim --Pablo Flores
> >--Pablo Flores > >