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Active, Was: Help with grammar terms

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Thursday, January 13, 2000, 17:13
Hi everybody,

Apologies for a belated response...

On Wed, 5 Jan 2000 23:59:08 +0100, Daniel Andreasson
<daniel.andreasson@...> wrote:

>Nicole asked about active langs. > >Afaik, active langs use case to mark semantic >roles. So the 'agent' for instance always get marked >with the ergative case no matter if it is the >subject or object of the verb, and the 'patient' >and 'theme' might be marked with absolutive regardless >of its syntactic function. >
For some reason, I thought 'active' languages have something to do with dividing substantives (in fact, verbs as well) into active and inactive (= passive) classes. I remember an article describing something like this: In a sentence like 'The man felled the tree' one simply leaves both substantives unmarked ('man' being active and 'tree' inactive). But to make a patiens of an active substantive (or an agens of an inactive noun), one has to use special means. For example, to say 'the tree threw down the man', one has to change the construction e. g. as follows: The-power-of-the-tree caused the man's falling ('The-power-of-the-tree' standing for an active derivative, and 'the man's falling' for a construction behaving like inactive noun). However I don't remember what language the example was from, and I have no reference material by hand now. Do I confuse the terms? If so, what is the correct term for the situation described above (i. e. no marking when roles correspond to classes, special marking for the reverse case)? Best, Vasiliy Chernov AKA Basilius