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Re: Mediopassive/labile verbs; was: very confused - syntax question

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 6, 1999, 19:28
Sally Caves wrote:

> And thus "middle" would mean that the subject is both? This is where I > have missed the point. "I wash" is also "me wash"? That makes perfect > sense.
Just so. "I wash-MIDDLE" means "I wash myself", "I am washer and washee", "I am agent and patient in the act of washing", just as "I wash-ACTIVE" means that I am agent, and "I wash-PASSIVE" means I am patient. As I said before, the historic use of "medio-passive" is to name *forms* that can be used for either the middle or the passive voice in Gk, Skt, Hittite. It has apparently been buccaneered to name not a voice (as I thought) but a verb class also known as "unergative".
> Except that some linguists are using it this way, which is why the > term works its way into some dictionaries, leading the ignorant astray. > Under the fourth type of "labile" or "amphibious" verb, Trask lists > the "mediopassive."
"He who would take all of knowledge for his province (i.e. lexicographers) must frequently define what he does not understand." -- I forget who, maybe J.A.H. Murray (ed. OED) -- John Cowan Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis um dies! / Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau / Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge / Politzer