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Re: Verbs and More Verbs

From:Kala Tunu <kalatunu@...>
Date:Saturday, March 2, 2002, 9:48
Jim Grossmann <steven@...> wrote:
First things first: In the sentence "John exited the building," what semantic role does "John" play? Is he an agent? Is he an experiencer? If he's something else, what's the name of that role? <<< i'd call him a subject and "to exit" a dynamic state verb incorporating a spatial relation. you get plenty of those like that: "the water fills out the glass" and "the boat crosses the channel".
Still not sure what role telicity might play in determining the number and nature of a verb's arguments. "Examine" is atelic because one could logically, if not practically, do it indefinitely. "Sever" is telic because, logically, the act it stands for entails its own completion. Both take the same number or arguments AFAIK. I can't think of any examples in which telicity affects the number of arguments a verb has, but I could be missing something. <<< RM dismisses telicity in his system precisely because he says it doesn't change the number of arguments of the verb as you say too. he says this is possible because telic and atelic arguments are mutually exclusive. this may hold true in english. you say: "i grind the cereal (into flour)", "i grind flour (from cereal)". "cereal" is an atelic patient and "flour" is a telic focus (aka "resultive pattern") and they never come together in a phrase without a preposition. try also "to plant flowers in the garden/to plant the garden with flowers" and "to sculpt a statue from wood/to sculpt a piece of wood into a statue" (btw, those are two transitive verbs with opposite directions.) but you could imagine a lang where atelic patient and telic focus co-occur in a phrase. my conlang does anyway. maybe Lojban does that? "grind X into Y via Z"--right, John? :) There is also the very interesting case of "double-focus" verbs: "she call him an idiot", "she estimates its length up to one meter", etc. where the direct object is the patient of the second object as well as the focus of the subject : "he (patient) is idiot" // "she (agent) calls him (focus) an idiot (focus)." this is different from "she (agent) calls [he (patient) is idiot] (focus). (my (french) books call those focuses "topic" and "pattern") The object of "examine" is an atelic focus while the object of "sever" is a telic patient.
I've heard some interesting terms lately that I don't understand yet: "exotropic," "endotropic," "exoactive," "endoactive," "effective verb," "affective verb." I'm looking forward to further elaboration on the meanings of these terms. Also need to know about natlang links that feature their use. <<< Regarding "effective", i might be wrong but that's how i understand it: "effective" means that the action "effects" the object: the object is a patient. some transitive verbs don't effect the object--Rick Morneaus says the object is a focus: i sing a song, i call him, i know that, etc. some other transitive verbs effect the object in a known way--RM calls the object a patient: i break it, i paint it, i cut it, etc. some other transitive verbs effect the object in an unknown way--RM calls the object a patient: i kick him, etc. some other transitive verbs effect the object but Morneau calls the object a focus: i eat, i write, etc. (these are in my opinion verbs with "hidden" telicity) some other transitive verbs may or not effect the patient--RM still calls their object a patient: to kick, to smash, to pat, etc. some other transitive verbs are dubious: you could either consider they effect or they don't effect the object--RM classifies their object as focus or patient according to rules too long to explain here: the cover covers the bed, i judge him, water fills the glass, to plant trees, etc. that's how RM came to mix up all "result", "pattern", "reference", "topic", etc. into a single category he calls a "focus". I don't know any natlang tagging focus and patient objects differently. but indonesian tags passive verbs differently depending on whether he subject is a patient or a focus: One passive tag is used for any passive subject (di-): the mountain (focus) is seen: gunung dilihat ; the dog (patient) is beaten up: anjing dipukul ; the letter (patient when under writing? focus when written up?) is written: surat ditulis. Another for focus subject only (ke-an): the mountain (focus) is seen: gunung kelihatan. A third for stative or resultative passive (ter-): the mountain (focus) is seen: gunung terlihat ; the letter (focus) is written up: surat tertulis. But the whole system is not very consistent. The interesting thing is that verbs that i feel RM's system doesn't deal OK with are also confusing in indonesian: the ricepaddy (patient? focus?) is planted: sawah ditanami. the rice (patient? focus?) is planted: tumbuhan ditanami. Those annoying verbs are those with a spatial relation between inanimate items and also those where the final aim ("hidden telicity") is not clear: you could either plant the garden to adorn it or to grow plants. that's why i completed those verbs with prepositions like bad english does: the paddy is planted into // the plant is planted with. Mathias