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Re: ergative? I don't know...

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Tuesday, October 27, 1998, 0:08
On Mon, 26 Oct 1998, Mathias M. Lassailly wrote:

> Sally wrote : > > [snip] > > enigmatic comments like "the unergative is 'oops I didn't mean it.' > > I can see you prefer words like 'volitional'. Very chic.
Ah ha ha ha ha ha! I published my apology to you, Mathias, before I saw this... this is harder to forgive, but I do. And my apology stands as well. We should really endeavor not to make each other angry on this listserv, as the congeniality and CLARITY of "Conlang" is one of its nicest features. No, I didn't want to assume anything about your nationality and first language, although I did wonder if English was a second tongue to you. Since clarity and kindness are required on this list, and also because English seems to be the favored language, it might be best when explaining hard concepts to stick to English terms if at all possible. In an ideal world, we would all know the linguistic terms used by other-than-English languages, but I was not taught linguistics in a French school. Why should I have been? So if you want to be understood by American/English scholars, then why not buy Trask's reliable Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in [English-based] Linguistics? This is of course regrettably "anglo-centric, but there it is. Perhaps you could suggest a similar French book for me to peruse before I get so high and mighty about your vocabulary. Good luck in all you do, Mathias. Yours sincerely, Sally
> French linguists usually use 'active' for either nom/acc and > 'agentive/patientive' for age/pat systems. They make a strong difference > between 'actant' (English 'agent') and 'agent' (English 'agent' :-) that > could have spared you many, many recent posts. >
I suppose, had I been French!
> And that is MY caveat : all your linguistic analysis - were it enhansed > by a very learned vocabulary - refers to syntax, and more specifically > English syntax. You try to describe all systems from the English 'agent' > viewpoint as for cases and from the English 'verb' viewpoint as for > predicates, further divided into 'state verbs,'action verbs' and > 'auxiliaries'. I was told in my linguistics classes 10 years ago that > this kind of analysis is certainly necessary as a reference for > linguists but already biased with regard to philosophy (yes, we do learn > philosophy at school over here) because it goes from (Fr.) aspective to > unaspective : from instant to eternity, from 'verb' to 'noun' whereas > some languages may go reversely so that the distinction made between > cases and verbs become very questionable. In short : your righteous > analysis mixes syntax and semantics and maybe is a standard over there, > but is not here even in my old, simplistic French books. >
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Sally Caves Rin euab ouarjo vopy vytssema tohda uo zef: ar al aippara brottwav; ad kemban aril yllefo brotwav fenom; vybbrysan brotwav an; he ad edirmerem brotwav kronom. "A cat and a man are not all that different. Both are on my bed; both lay their head on their arm; both have mustaches; both purr when they sleep." ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++