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Re: Inherently Passive Verbs

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Sunday, March 26, 2006, 22:06
Arthaey wrote:
At first blush, this does seem to be a similar
phenomenon, but I otherwise have *zero* experience with Hawaiian. Can
anyone else comment?

Having given this some more study, I can add some things.

First of all, the system is being reanalyzed in Hawaiian.  So what
were once really bizarre, are becoming rather prosaic.  Compare
these two:

Old Form:
Hiki ia'u ke hele.
/able OBJ.-I PRES. go/
"I can go."

Recent Form:
Hiki a'u ke hele.
/able I PRES. go/
"I can go."

Here, the subject used to be marked as a patient (e.g., "It is able
to me that I can go"), but probably under influence from English
(just a guess), this is being reanalyzed.  Same with the loa'a verbs,
which are themselves a product of reanalysis.

Starting way back in time, if you look at that list of loa'a verbs,
you might notice that most of them end in /-a/, or are adjectival.
This is because the old passive marker used to be *-a.  So, way
back when, those "inherently" passive verbs were...well, herently
passive.  That is, they were active verbs with an overt passive

Moving our way-back machine forward a little bit, this passive
marker was fossilized, and so these verbs just look like verbs.
In fact, they *so* look like normal verbs that they themselves
can be passivized:

(a) 'Eha ko'u lima.
/hurt my hand/
“My hand hurt(s).”

(b) 'Eha ko'u lima i ke kane.
/hurt my hand OBJ. the man/
“The man hurt my hand.”  (Or, “My hand was hurt by the man.”)

(c) 'Eha 'ia ko'u lima (e ke kane).
/hurt PASS. my hand (by the man)/
“My hand was hurt (by the man).”

So sentences (b) and (c) there look pretty much identical, as far
as meaning goes (and, of course, for added fun, (a) could be
causativized).  /'ia/ is the new, regular passive marker (historically
distinct from the old *-a passive), and since both intransitive and
transitive verbs can be passivized, you get (c).

This is a pretty strange system.  Consequently, I don't think it's
a surprise that these verbs are being reanalyzed.  Thus, I believe
you can now get:

(d) 'Eha ke kane i ko'u lima.
/hurt the man OBJ. my hand/
"The man hurt my hand."

Anyway, I think the main point to take away is that it's kind of
a historical accident that Hawaiian has these inherently passive
verbs.  However, even with the active verbs, there's a kind of
semantic correlation that might be drawn.  That is, there's a change
of state involved.  So if you imagine a regular verb like /make/,
"die", describing a process (the process of dying), then the old
passive would've focused on the endpoint of that process (something
like, "it was died by him, therefore, he is dead"), and that passive
itself could have become associated with the endpoint and nothing
else, so that you now get /make/ meaning "he is dead", and, if you
add another argument (the old reintroduced agent of the passive,
which is now marked like a patient), then you get the one that killed
him, so you go from "die" to "dead" to "kill".  You can imagine a
similar story for most of, if not all, of the other active loa'a verbs.

Regarding some Asha'ille examples:

     Arev en'i ne chifi. "I give a kitten."
     Alv en'i ne chifi. "I am given a kitten."

Here, the second could be "I receive a kitten".

     Arevteni ne chifi. "I am caused to give a kitten."
     Alvteni ne chifi. "I am caused to be given a kitten."

     Arevteni no ne chifi. "It causes me to give a kitten."
     Alvteni no ne chifi. "It causes me to be given a kitten," "It
gives me a kitten."

If you replace "be given" with "receive" in these two, then it looks
rather normal.

However, this raises an interesting point.  Is this only normal
because English happens to have a verb "receive"?  What if the
pair was with "invent" (e.g., "I invent a chair" vs. "I am-invented-by
a chair")?

"A male love inevivi i'ala'i oku i ue pokulu'ume o heki a."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison