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Tirelat's newly found activeness

From:daniel andreasson <daniel.andreasson@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 8, 2000, 22:27
Herman Miller wrote:

> Syntax is also active, if that means what I think it does: the subject of > an intransitive verb precedes it if it is an agent, and follows it if it is > a patient.
Yes, partly that. Dixon writes that the unmarked case is most likely the leftmost in a clause. The question is which case is the unmarked in an active lang. Probably Absolutive as in ergative langs. Hmm... That would lead to a SV and OVA word order. 'I.ABS fell' and 'You.ABS killed I.ERG', but would that lead to 'Jumped I.ERG'? Or would the A-function stand before the verb if there is no Undergoer? Could that be correct? That would suit Rinya very well, since it is OVS. But I also wonder how Tirelat handles complementation, relativisation, coordination and other syntactic operations. I don't quite get the whole thing yet, but here's what Kibrik writes on the subject of syntactically active languages: "Such a language should syntactically treat Actors in one way, and Undergoers in another. For example, it could have an interclausal switch reference rule for cross-clause coreference: the chain of coreferent Actors (A+A) would have the clausal marker SAME, while the chains of coreferent pairs (U+U, A+U, U+A), could have the marker DIFFERENT." He gives the examples: A+A 'He came and said.' = SAME U+U 'He fell and died.' = DIFFERENT A+U 'He came and died.' = DIFFERENT U+A 'He fell and jumped up.' = DIFFERENT I'm not sure why U+U wouldn't be treated the same way as A+A with such a rule. About coordination, I don't think it's possible to use an anti-passive construction, just like ergative langs. To express a sentence (UND = Undergoer, ACT = Actor): 'I (UND) fell and you (ACT) saw me (UND).' you could leave out 'me', leaving: 'I fell and you saw'. Since 'I' and 'me' are both Undergoers, similar to ergative syntax. But if you wanted to say 'I (ACT) jumped and you (ACT) saw me (UND).' you can't leave out 'me' since it's not an Actor. You can't use anti-passive to turn 'you saw me' into an intransitive clause, because 'I' and 'me' would still have different roles. You also can't use the passive '...and I was seen by you' for the same reason. I'm not sure how to do this, but perhaps one possible solution is the above-mentioned construction with SAME and DIFFERENT. 'I (ACT) jumped and you (ACT) saw-DIFF.' might then imply a 'me'-Undergoer at the end of the sentence. What do you think? Perhaps Matt Pearson might be of help here? Another cool thing, that I've just incorporated in Rinya (stolen from the Dagestanian language Dargwa) is reflexivisation which is primarily controlled by the NP which is assigned Empathy. Compare the following sentences: i) 3sg:DAT self:ABS praises Daniel:ERG exceeding others. 'Daniel praises himself more than (he praises) others.' Paraphrase: 'It is Daniel who praises, and he praises himself more than other people.' ii) 3sg:DAT self:ERG praises Daniel:ABS exceeding others. 'Daniel praises himself more than others (praise him).' Paraphrase: 'It is Daniel who is praised, and more by himself than by other people.' In i) Empathy is assigned to Daniel (the Agent) and in ii) it is assigned to the Patient (the reflexive pronoun). By switching the cases ERG and ABS, you give the sentences very different meanings.
> Also, some intransitive verbs like "vesti" may take two "subjects", an > agent and what I call a "co-agent", which usually takes the place of the > patient.
> se Djan-Danbar vesti-n ke yul > AGE John-Dunbar dance-NARR CO-AGE wolf > John Dunbar dances with wolves.
That's neat. Myself, I originally used comitative for that, but since I reduced the cases to a minimum (erg, abs, dat, instr, loc, abl) I don't know how to handle it. I'll probably go for the instrumental case. I even use the dative for genitive/possessive constructions.
> > PS. I think Robert D. Van Valin Jr's article "Semantic Parameters of > > Split Intransitivity" might be a good read. If you haven't already...
> I haven't seen that. Is that an article in a magazine, or is it available > online somewhere?
It's from the magazine 'Language' Vol. 66 no. 1 (1990). You could probably get it in any library. (Myself, I just have to ask my teacher, and she'll get it for me. :) Well, this mail was as much a way for me to write down some ideas for Rinya as anything else. What do you think about all this? Daniel