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
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
>>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
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,
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.