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applicative (again) (was: Re: Voices)

From:Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Date:Friday, December 3, 2004, 18:42
Steven Williams wrote:
> Another idea, quite-thoroughly discussed about a month > ago, is the applicative voice. Basically, it works > like this: > > Active voice: > "The cat [ACT] slept on the mat [OBL]." > >..... To make it applicative, you'd > do something like this: > > Applicative voice: > "The cat [ACT] (on)slept the mat [PAT]." > > Where the cat is still the actor, but the mat is > raised to the status of the patient, and if you like, > you can indicate the exact role the former oblique > phrase took as a verbal adfix (which is why I put 'on' > in parentheses there). > > English has some constructions that look suspiciously > applicative,
Yes, things like: to water (the plants), to cage (a bird), to pocket (a coin) etc. basically "put X in/on NOUN"
>... but I can't think of any > natlangs offhand that have the applicative, though > I've heard that it's fairly common at any rate.
Indonesian does this with its verbal suffix -i: air 'water' > meng/air/i 'to irrigate s.t.' minyak 'oil' > me/minyak/i 'to oil s.t.' kurang 'less' > mengurang/i 'to reduce s.t.' (however, there's near-synonymous mengurang/kan 'to reduce s.t.'-- The exs. in the dictionary don't make clear what the difference is, and I'm no longer sure either...if there is a difference. Note that in Indonesian, just as in Engl., "skin ~to skin" (kulit ~menguliti) means "_remove_ the skin from...". Peculiar. The meanings sometime change rather radically: datang 'come' but men/datang-i 'to attack'. Our sleeping cat ex. works nicely in Indo. too; the (a) exs. are SV+PrepP, the (b)s are SVO-- 1a. kucing tidur di kursi 'the cat slept in/on the chair' 1b. kucing meniduri kursi 'the cat slept-in/on the chair' OR 2a. Ali tidur di tikar 'Ali slept on a mat' 2b. Ali meniduri tikar 'Ali slept-on a mat' Problem: my non-native Sprachgefühl says that 1a simply states a fact, while 1b suggests that the cat shouldn't have been in the chair (though 1a could also imply that). But conversely, 2a suggests either habitual or one-time occurrence, but 2b suggests only _habitual_. I'm not at all sure of this, however-- but it could be an interesting distinction to make in a conlang. The main use of the -i forms (since they're transitive) is in relative clauses where a passive may be required: Kursi mana yang ditiduri kucing? 'Which chair (is it) that is/was-slept-in (by) the cat? Tikar yang ditiduri Ali, kurang bersih 'The mat that is/was-slept-on (by) Ali is/was not very clean.' In these cases, only context will tell whether it's habitual/one-time, permitted/non-permitted action. (Of course an auxiliary verb would clear things up-- suka tidur di../meniduri... 'likes to sleep-on...', tak mesti tidur di.../meniduri... 'mustn't sleep on...')