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Passive sentences and indirect objects

From:Adrian Morgan (aka Flesh-eating Dragon) <dragon@...>
Date:Saturday, February 5, 2005, 17:29
I've been thinking about how Gzarondan should handle passive sentences
in which an indirect object is promoted to subject, as in the English

   "I was read to by my cousin."

(as opposed to ordinary passive: "The book was read by my cousin.")

I believe I've made a decision about this, but I thought I'd raise the
topic because I can see a variety of ways I could have done it. The
main question is what to do with the preposition "to". There's nothing
particularly weird in principle about a hypothetical language choosing
"to I was read" or "I was to read" or a variety of options.

It's impossible to accurately transliterate passive sentences to and
from English and Gzarondan, because passive sentences in Gzarondan
depend upon the notion of the viaverbial adjective. Roughly speaking,
if an adjective is marked as viaverbial then its applicability to the
corresponding noun is a consequence of the clause itself. Thus, if I
say that "the dead-VV man was shot" then you know that he is dead
*because* he was shot, whereas "the dead-UNMARKED man was shot" could
easily mean that the man was shot but died from unrelated causes, or
that the man was already dead when his corpse was shot.

In ordinary passive sentences like, "the book was read by my cousin",
we turn the main verb "read" into a viaverbial adjective (because the
book becomes read as a consequence of the clause) and fill in the
verb space with a sort of auxiliary ("xet"). This gives us:
"The book read-VV _xet_ my cousin".

So, what to do with a passive sentence that promotes an indirect

I've decided to incorporate the preposition inside the viaverbial
adjective so that "read-to-VV" will be one word with the morphemes in
that order. The original example thus becomes:
"I read-to-VV _xet_ my cousin".

(The active sentence has the same word order as in English: "my cousin
read the book to me".)



Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>