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Agents and patients (I)

From:FFlores <fflores@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 14, 2000, 14:48
Jim Grossmann <steven@...> wrote:

>> 3p.PAT house.ABL see >> 'They see a house.' (*'To them from a house is seen.'?) > > >Do you mark the difference between 3p singular and 3p plural? If so, you >might want to specify "" for "they."
Yes, I do; and no, since the "p" in "3p" already means "plural"! :)
>About your terminology: You may want to separate syntactic from semantic >terms a little more: you do this with subject & object (syntactic) vs. >agent & patient (semantic), but you don't do this with "ablative" and >"dative." You might want to reserve these terms for syntactic description, >and tell us what concepts they correspond to (source, goal, beneficiary). >Do "ablative" and "dative" have special applications in case grammar that I >don't know about?
They are supposed to be used for motion, combined with adpositions (as in Latin?) and dative probably for what the name suggests (i. e. indirect objects). I understand the idea of syntactic vs. semantic, and I've been careful not to pay too much attention (in my mind) to subject and object, since they cannot be biunivocally matched with agent and patient in themselves. I'll be sure to use semantic terms instead of syntactic for the rest, just to make things clear, but I'm afraid it will complicate the issue even more (adding more lexicon to the explanation, and having to match semantic terms with the corresponding syntactic ones -- agent and patient are quite intuitive, but source, goal, beneficiary, etc. are not so).
>So for your sentence, I would put ... > > house.ablative see >experiencer stimulus type of experience >'To them from house see.' >"They see the house."
Yes, I know dative is used in many langs for experiencer. I was trying to do something different... But as you say, using syntactic terms for semantic functions is not good. Maybe I should rename my cases -- but I have to find more patterns yet.
>house.ablative see > >stimulus experiencer type of experience >'From house to them see.' > >Contrast this with "To them from house see."
Yes, exactly as I thought; just shifting word order would be enough.
>On the other hand, if nouns that stand for experiencers have a different >case than nouns that stand for agents, would the former be subject to the >same transformations as the latter? You may want to restrict the use of >passive voice to clauses whose verbs stand for honest-to-god actions and >whose arguments include honest-to-god agents and patients.
I'll try and see what my native speakers say. They are becoming really confused now. :)
>>I only have AGT, PAT, ABL and DAT, and I'm somehow seeing >>a hierarchy -- in that order. Does this make sense? > >I don't see a hierarchy here; what I've seen so far doesn't remind me of >the hierarchy of agency used to account for the splits in split ergative >languages.
Oh, that was not the idea... I only sat down and wrote some examples, and this thing popped out; AGT / PAT for 'active' sentences (especially volitional verbs), PAT / ABL for perception verbs, ABL / DAT for passive perception: the scale AGT / PAT / ABL / DAT, from more active to less active (or stative, like 'being seen'). The *names* of the cases are probably not a good choice. Thanks a lot for your comments! PS Read my other message -- everything's changed, but I didn't want to erase this one completely. --Pablo Flores