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

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Sunday, July 4, 1999, 19:11
From Http://Members.Aol.Com/Lassailly/Tunuframe.Html wrote:
>=20 > Dans un courrier dat=E9 du 04/07/99 13:49:17 , vous avez =E9crit : >=20 > > The mediopassive seems to be where you use a subject that would > > ordinarily > > be the object of its transitive verb: the soup cooks (rather than o=
> > cooks > > the soup, or the soup is being cooked). I don't know; maybe these t=
> > are interchangeable. Soup is acting on itself. Soup cooks (itself). > > But > > I see a slight difference in these examples. I wonder how Jennifer =
> > using middle voice. "with my brothers they won the prize for > > themselves?" > > or: "with my brothers the prize wins for them"? >=20 > medio-passive !!! :-) > thanks for this definition :-) i kept calling it "anti-passive" > because the only word i knew was "middle voice" > and this is not the same concept as you point it. it is rather a way > to swap agent and patient.=20
Exactly. You say: the rose smells good; the fish tastes salty (not: I taste the fish to be salty, I smell the rose to be good). And it's NOT the same as "I wash," or "I get up" which is what I think the traditional middle voice expresses. Trask has this definition for "medio-passive": "A construction in which an intrinsically transitive verb is construed intransitively with a patient as subject and receives a passive interpretation: This fabric washes easily. My new book is selling well." Trask also directs you to "labile verb" and "middle voice," which is why I wondered if the mediopassive and middle voice were ever interchangeable. As for thinking the mediopassive was sometimes called the middle voice, I call upon the authority of other linguists on the list who so defined it last year. Unless I misunder- stood. I recall a discussion that Matt participated in in which I got the impression that "the fish cooks slowly" was in the middle voice. Slowly, I'm refining my knowledge of this stuff.
> but maybe Teonath does not need > that since it already has a volitional/unvolitional that may point > at the right agent or patient (?)
Teonaht's volitionality is only operant with subjects--which is why I was tentatively identifying it as a nominative/accusative language with "split" nominative. Actually, the distinction is really made in the verb. It's the verb that carries volitional or non-volitional marking and the subject echoes it in the article it uses. So it still can use a mediopassive (what I was calling, wrongly I see, a "middle voice"). Take the verb oua for instance (pronounced oh-yah): nonvol: Il auto ry ouan I hear the car (through no decision on my part) volit: Il auto ry oua I listen for the car (deliberately) medpas: Blar il auto ouib The car sounds (hears) loud. I used to write the third one (what I called "the middle voice") with the nominative: =09 Blar li auto ouib because -ib was the old Teonaht passive construction that I dumped in=20 favor of the periphrastic "gets its hearing," "is under hearing." Ex: Kwecib li perpwe, "cooked the fish," i.e. "the fish is cooked." But recently I threw a curve ball and decided to turn the subject of the middle voice or mediopassive into a patient, just to see what it would do to Teonaht. So now it's _il auto_, patient, that is quasi- subject, and -ib at the end of "oua." What does this do, suggest? That Teonaht has had a brush with the ergative?????? That the Teonim have over-corrected what was once just the passive? =20 Blar li auto ouib means literally, "loud the car (is) heard." But _auto_ is overcorrected to a patient instead of remaining a subject. So it's definitely no longer a middle voice, and a problematic mediopassive. That's at least how I explain it! ;-)
> houses sell well, > birds look nice, > rice cooks quickly... > prize awards now ;-) >=20 > japanese is full of medio-passive verbs. > i use it with every single transitive verb and i keep it transitive :
Just like Basque! Here's Trask on "labile verbs": "A lexical verb wich can be construed either transitively or intransitively. At least eight classes may be recognized in English: 1) ABSOLUTE TRANSITIVES: "she is eating dinner,=20 she is eating." 2) REFLEXIVE ABSOLUTE TRANSITIVES: "she=20 undressed the children, she undressed." 3) UNACCUSATIVES: "she melted the ice; the ice melted." 4) MEDIOPASSIVES: "they're selling my book, my book is selling well."=20 5) certain VERBS OF PERCEPTION: "she tasted the wine, the wine tasted good" 6) CAUSATIVES: "the horse was walking, she was walking the horse" 7) VERBS OF MOTION: she swam the Channel, she swam slowly 8) PROGRESSIVES: "they're=20 reprinting my book, my book is reprinting." Not all transitive verbs in English can undergo this process Trask is careful to point out. In Basque, apparently, and in your conlang, all verbs are labile in this way. Teonaht treats numbers 4, 5, and 8 the same way, with the -ib construction. For number two, it uses a reflexive pronoun: "She undressed herself." But I have to decide whether verbs like "melt" or "boil" are transitives or intransitives in Teonaht. So far, _sodaned_, "boil," is intransitive. It's what water does or a river. To boil water, you "make boil" it. Il memwa elry soddama: "The water did I make boil." I might devise another verb entirely for "undressed" when it's used intransitively. Or devise an ending that is reflexive. "Make oneself=20 undressed/awake/tired/prepared," etc. =20
> i see the flower > the flower appears-to me > boku-wa hana-wo miru > hana-wa boku-ni mi-e-ru > me-(NOM)-TOP flower-ACC see > flower-(NOM)-TOP me-OBL appear
Interesting! =20
> i don't think it is the same as : "flower sees for itself" or other gre=
> interesting middle voice as i remember it (kta-omai etc.) like Ray expl=
> it.
> thanks a lot again, Sally !
Again? not at all! <G> S.C.