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Re: Test for middle voice?

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Sunday, November 20, 2005, 7:30
Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On 11/19/05, *Henrik Theiling* < > <mailto:theiling@...>> wrote: > > Hi! > > R A Brown <ray@CAROLANDRAY.PLUS.COM > <mailto:ray@...>> writes: > >... In the strict sense, English does not have a middle _voice_, > >i.e. a grammatically category distinguished morphologically from > >active and passive. ... > > I'd say that modern English does have some kind of systematic middle. > More than than, say, German. You have a lot of transitive verbs that > work well intransitively for the object* of the transitive verb used > as the *subject* of the transitive one. This is quite close to a > distinct syntactic category, and it is often kind of a middle voice: > > Yes, but I believe Ray's point was that it is not syntactically > distinguished. The "middle voice" verbs you cite are indistinguishable > in form from their active counterparts.
Absolutely - spot on! In "The cup fills [with
> water]", the verb "fills" is syntactically and morphologically in the > active voice, regardless of how you choose to distinguish its semantic role.
Yes, grammatically (syntactically & morphologically) English has only two voices: active & passive. IMO it is unhelpful and confusing to use the term 'voice' as a semantic category; especially when there exists the perfectly good term _diathesis_. I quote Trask's definition: "The relation between the semantic roles (deep cases, theta roles) subcategorized for by a lexical verb or predicate and the surface expression of those roles as grammatical relations." What Henrik is writing about is diathesis, and I have not said that there is no 'middle' diathesis in English. Indeed, I believe that some analyses of English postulate more than just three diatheses. However, I understood Aidan's mail to be about _grammatical_ voice and replied accordingly. Indeed, Aidan's reply of 19th Nov surely confirms this. -- Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>