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Ergative and other questions

From:Carsten Becker <post@...>
Date:Monday, November 17, 2003, 16:25

Starting to read all those 200 emails from this mailing list, I tripped over
terms such as

1. "Ergative",
2. "Absolutive",
3. "transitive" and
4. "intransitive".

As newbie, I absolutely do not know what they mean. As for the cases, I
already looked on that SIL linguistic terms lexicon page, but there they
spoke about "transtive" and "intransitive" verbs. I heard about these, but I
never really understood what they mean. Regarding absolutive and ergative, I
know that Basque makes this difference, but as I said already, I did not
understand what this is. Could you please *try* to explain the terms *with
English examples*, not in another language (like Basque) where this
phenomenom may appear, but which I do not understand? Explanations in
"Abstract Grammaticalese" I don't like so much either. This is the only way
I understand things better at the moment - again: I'm only a newbie!

An addtional question, not referring to my actual one and rather OT: I saw
mails where people were quoted and instead of "Bla Blablabla *wrote*" it
read "Bla Blablabla scripsit", "sikyal" or "palsalge" - which languages are
these words from?



Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Costentin Cornomorus <elemtilas@...>
Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...>
Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>