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Believing As Experiencer/Stimulus Versus Agent/Patient

From:Tom Chappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Thursday, June 30, 2005, 15:08
Hello everyone, and especially Sai Emrys, if you are interested, since you've been
contributing to the "THEORY: Are commands to believe infelicitous?" thread

Here below was my attempt to get some of my related questions answered on another
group. Nobody else contributed anything to that group on this or any other
topic since I asked this question there. I do not think I was responsible for
killing that group.

(At least the message archives are still there! I also asked related questions on
ConLangHelp. No messages exist anymore on ConLangHelp! What happened to it?)


Request for Examples and Ideas.
The original meaning of the etymon for "heresy" was "to choose to believe".
Punishment of "heretics" was based on the feeling that this "choice" was willfull act of
the believer.
There is in many languages a strong distinction between the semantics, grammar, and
morphology of monotransitive verbs whose roles are Agent and Patient, as
opposed to those monotransitive verbs whose roles are Experiencer and Stimulus.
For example in Accusative/Nominative languages with Direct and Indirect objects,
active-voice simple declarative clauses with Agent and Patient roles have the
Agent in the Nominative and the Patient in the Accusative; but many
Experiencer/Stimulus active-voice simple declarative clauses have Dative
Experiencers in many languages.
The prototypical Agent performs, effects, instigates, and controls the action;
while the prototypical Patient is chiefly affected by the action. Agents are
prototypically Animate; Patients are frequently not Animate.
The prototypical Experiencer also performs, effects, and instigates the action.
However, the Stimulus, rather than the Experiencer, controls the outcome of the
action; and the Experiencer, rather than the Stimulus, is chiefly affected by
the action.
1) I can choose not to look at my dictionary, or to look at it only in dim or
monochrome light; but once I look at it in good sunlight, I have to see that it
is red: I cannot make myself see that it is green unless there is something
wrong with my color vision.
2) I can choose not to touch my dictionary; but once I do so, I must feel that it
is dry: I cannot feel that it is wet unless there is something wrong with my
tactile sense.
3) By not picking it up, I can fail to find out how much it weighs; but once I do
pick it up, I must feel that it weighs about what it weighs, not a lot less and
not a lot more, unless something is wrong with my proprioceptive sense.
English has many verbs and phrasal verbs that may be considered near- and not-so-near-
synonyms for "to choose to believe". Among the near-synonyms might be "to
conclude", "to decide", "to deduce", "to be/become persuaded/convinced that",
and perhaps others. Among the not-so-near-synonyms might be "to detect", "to
investigate", "to observe", "to prove", "to research", and perhaps others.
Are there languages where there is a gradation between various ways of saying
something like "choose to believe" from one whose sense is as clearly
Experiencer/Stimulus as "saw the dictionary's cover was red" to one whose sense
is as clearly Agent/Patient as "named the dog 'Rover'"?
I really want to know.  I've been looking around for a good place to ask.

Tom H. C. in MI

Note: forwarded message attached.

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