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

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 6, 1999, 20:17
Raymond A. Brown wrote:
> This thread started with Jennifer being confused, not a discussion about > Teonaht or any other conlang except, presumably, the one Jennifer is > constructing. Some of the confusion most of (and I certainly include > myself) experience from time to time arises because there are different > traditions. I'm saying no more and no less than that.
Ray, I was including Jennifer's use of terminology along with my reminder (about the flexibility of linguistic terms). If you'll recall from the initial responses I've posted to her query, I've been keeping her conlang in mind. Besides, all of us follow threads because they have marginal or central application to our own conlangs, and I've seen many a thread diverge wildly from the initial request. I do believe that several of us--you, I, Matthias, and others--have taken pains to understand what Jennifer is trying to do with the middle voice, and have offered, I hope, helpful suggestions. And while it's not worth getting annoyed about this, your (seeming to) reprimand me for mentioning Teonaht, or having a question about the medio-passive that interests me, is a little provoking. Everybody succumbs to the AFMCL, occasionally, which is only natural: it's the language we know best outside of our natural languages, and I've seen many a post offer examples to listmembers who've asked for help from their own conlangs, and even to submit queries themselves. Even the conlang translation relay wasn't expected to stay on topic, so why do you think this thread is any different? We're talking about the best terms possible for constructions that resemble the middle voice or the mediopassive or whatever you want to call it... either in my Teonaht or in Jennifer's Asiteya. When discussions of relevant topics come up, everyone who contributes can ask questions that will help them straighten out their own conundrums. And until Jennifer gives us more information, we're all sort of in the dark, and can only really turn to our own conlangs as points of comparison. Sincerely, Sally Post script:
> 'Middle' I can understand - it simply doesn't look passive to me, > especially if one uses a progressive: "The soup is cooking nicely". OK - I > know it can be argued that it really means: "The soup is being cooked > nicely", so one can justify a terminology that's got passive in its name. > As I said, I really don't want to get into a protracted argument over > terminology where there are clearly different traditions.
Then don't! I'm not pushing this in any kind of agonistic way. This doesn't have to be an *argument,* Ray. I would be happy to ask somebody else. This interests me passionately, so why not just take it for that, instead of as an inducement for argument? I'm not condemning the use of medio-passive amongst classicists. I'm asking whether the term can be extended for use in my sense.
> Maybe - and it'd be fine if everyone then used Trask - but they don't.
Trask didn't make these terms up. Other linguists have, over a period of decades. That's why it's a dictionary. There are other dictionaries of contemporary linguistic terms. And apparently, "medio-passive" has been used in the sense that I want to use it. Which is encouraging to me! So I guess I don't need your endorsement. So I guess you can relax! :)
> It has not been my intention to put forward _my_ terminology nor to > criticize someone else's terminology - merely to ask for a little tolerance > & understanding as to why some us get confused sometimes.
I don't believe that there is any need to be defensive here at all. I'm sorry that you felt I was denigrating your great passion for and knowledge of classical Greek. Of course I don't denigrate that. I just didn't feel that it was relevant to my question, which is what you were referencing when you expressed confusion (not, BTW, Jennifer's "confusion," which is what you chide me for not staying on topic with <G>). As for Jennifer, I think she's doing something with Asiteyu that is quite different from the usual IE structures, and it will be difficult to give her any easy answers.
> >> So how about a little us conlangers coming up with better ideas? > > > >See Charles' post a few hours back. LOL > > Which one? And my suggestion wasn't meant to be a dead, serious > proposition: just a little half-fun, half-serious idea.
Neither was Charles's! After all,
> whatever we might come up with on this list is hardly likely to shake the > world of linguistics.
True; here it is: Charles' response to Matthias' response to your response to his response to my response to Jennifer's question about middle voice (mine was my response to your response to Lars's response to mine and Matthias' response to your response to Jennifers' almost infinitum) <G>: Matthias:
> > I'm just having cannibalistic fun because I'm fed up with natlangs' > > restricted range of voices.
> Yes, we must reform the outlandish terminology. > First, eliminate those nasty clitics. . . > But for voices we need a totally new set: > > Transigent voices: > > Leftist: I eat the fish. > rightest: The fish be eaten by me. > > Intransigent voices: > > Left-moderate: I eat. > Right-moderate: The fish be eaten. > > Apathetic voices: > > Middle: The fish eats his heart-out. > Neutral: The fish gets fished. > > Imaginary voices: > > Centrist: Just eat. > Radical: Just fish.
A voice with some much needed levity! Now you can see why my inbox fills up so quickly. I save everything. S.