active vs. semantic marking languages (was: Re: Noun tense)
|From:||Daniel Andreasson Vpc <daniel.andreasson@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, July 24, 2002, 8:46|
Peter Clark wrote:
> Because Enamyn is an active-case language, it
> would mark both as agents in the case of a verb > like "meet," assuming that they
> planned on meeting > at such-and-such a time. If they just bumped into
> each other on the street corner, then they would both > be patients.
That's not really an active language. At least not in
the sense usually used on this list. Some people on
this list refer to this kind of language as "active", however.
(Although I think both Marcus Smith and Jörg Rhiemeier are nomail, so I hope this won't
turn into some kind of flame war. Otoh, the point of bringing this matter up is
futile if neither of them are here.)
What I mean by active language is a language
which can mark the sole participant of an intransitive
clause as either agent or patient depending on
the semantics of the verb (more common) or the
semantics of the NP (more rare). The arguments of
transitive clauses are marked like any other regular
accusative or ergative language: always agent for
the "subject" and patient for the "object":
Languages which mark the participants of a clause
differently regardless of it being intransitive, transitive
or even ditransitive, is not in my (and I think most linguists out there)
definition an active language,
but something else.
In short. Active languages are the third alternative
in the accusative-ergative-active triad. Simplified
Nominative: I-nom eat.
Ergative: I-abs eat.
Active: I-agt eat. --- I-pat sleep.
The purely semantic marking languages are of a
whole other kind.
Imho, we need to do one of the following things.
i) Include the semantic marking languages into the
ii) Call "split intransitive" languages "active" and give
a new name to the "semantic marking" kind. I'm suggesting "semantic marking", or
even though "agentive" and lots of other names are
used for "active". Other suggestions? I think we would
benefit from a more subtle distinction.
So what do people think? Does anyone but me even care?