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Re: Test for middle voice?

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Saturday, November 19, 2005, 8:50
Aidan Grey wrote:
> Heya folks, > > I want to incorporate middle voice into my conlang, but seeing as I'm an > L1 English speaker, it's hard for me to see it. I know that "Water fills > the cup" is a middle voice
Well water does not fill the cup in the same way that "I" fill the cup in the active "I fill the cup with water". One could also say "The cup is filled with water". The reason the voice was called 'middle' is that it sort of come between active and passive. (at least, it is according to Rick Morneau's
> 'Lexical Semantics'), but I have no idea how tell when another verb is, > or should be. Can anyone help me with a simple test?
It really depends on what you mean by "middle". In the strict sense, English does not have a middle _voice_, i.e. a grammatically category distinguished morphologically from active and passive. What Rick Morneau is talking about is _diathesis_, namely the relation between the semantic roles subcategorized for a lexical verb or predicate, and the expression of those roles as grammatical relations. As diathesis. linguists do not seem to me to be entirely in agreement about what constitutes 'middle'. Now you are obviously talking about a middle _voice_ such as existed (in part) in ancient Greek. Basically it was 'reflexive' in its meaning in the broadest sense of the term. The middle voice of ancient Greek behave very much like the reflexive verbs of modern Romance languages. They could be directly reflexive (je me lave) or indirectly reflexive (je me lave les mains), or just idiomatic. They sometimes did duty for passives, just as the do in the Romance langs. If you are designing a loglang, then you will probably need to read up about diathesis, semantic roles v. grammatical roles, and decide which precise meaning you give 'middle'. But if, as I suspect, you are designing an artlang, then my advice would be to model your middle voice on the behavior of reflexive verbs in languages like French, Spanish or Italian and not worry about 'tests'. Hope this helps. -- Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY


Aidan Grey <taalenmaple@...>
Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>