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Re: Vocab #4 (Uatakassi)

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Saturday, April 20, 2002, 18:30
Christopher B Wright wrote:
> > <Instrumental is used as the case of demoted absolutives in antipassive > and dative-object constructions. > Antipassive was used much more in LU. In later imperial times, it came > to be obligatory in transitive verbs, causing the instrumental to become > an accusative case, and the absolutive a nominative, with s- being a > transitivity marker. But, in early imperial times it was still a true > voice.> > > Care to explain this gobbledygook? At least to explain the special terms.
Well, I'm not sure how much you know, so forgive me if I repeat what you already know. Some languages use what it known as _ergative_ marking, as opposed to _accusative_. In an ergative system, there is a case called _ergative_ which is used for the subject of a TRANSITIVE verb, and another case called _absolutive_ which is used as the subject of an INTRANSITIVE verb or the OBJECT of a transitive verb. So, for example: The ball-absolutive fell The man-ergative dropped the ball-absolutive (I'm slighty simplifying the matter, it's more than a simple either/or case, ergativity can be restricted to case marking, or it can show up in the syntax) Now, many ergative languages have a special voice called "antipassive". This is analogous to the passive in accusative languages. The antipassive voice is used to make the ergative noun into an absolutive. Just as accusative languages then require some special marking for the agent of a passive verb (e.g., "the ball was dropped BY THE MAN"), the patient must be marked by some special case in an antipassive construction, in the case of Uatakassi, the instrumental is used. So, for example: Active: The man-ergative dropped the ball-absolutive Antipassive: The man-absolutive dropped-antipassive the ball-instrumental. Now, in late imperial times, Low Uatakassi (technically its successor _Lachuju_ "soldierspeak"), overused the antipassive to the point where it was always used in transitive sentences, thus: The ball-absolutive fell The man-absolutive dropped-"antipassive" the ball-instrumental Which means that the absolutive now acts just like a nominative in an accusative language, while the instrumental acts as an accusative (in fact, its original function of showing "by means of" was supplanted by a different case), and the antipassive marker is now used on all transitive verbs. Thus, it came to be reanalyzed as simply indicating that the verb in question is transitive. -- "There's no such thing as 'cool'. Everyone's just a big dork or nerd, you just have to find people who are dorky the same way you are." - overheard ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTaylor42