|From:||Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>|
|Date:||Friday, September 28, 2001, 16:40|
On Fri, 28 Sep 2001 09:30:15 -0000, Lars Henrik Mathiesen <thorinn@...>
>If you're just presented with one of these constructions, and not
>allowed to check what other constructions the language has, how do you
>distinguish between passive and ergative? (And you don't know that the
>verb is marked for passive if you don't have the unmarked form).
As I argued in one of my previous posts, you still have to tell which one
is ergative and which one is passive. I think what is *morphologically*
marked is an unrelated question (also hard to answer, sometimes).
>Well, in some cases, you can tell which of the noun phrases it is that
>behaves as a grammatical subject -- if it's the patient, you might be
>looking at a passive, if it's the agent, it might be ergative.
Yes, I though, too, that the distinction may be all in subjecthood (-ness?
>this doesn't always work, there are many ergative languages where the
>subject-like behaviour is distributed between the noun phrases. And
>it can change fairly easily.
Actually, this way one will have to postulate some non-nominative
constructions e. g. in English: _It seems to me_ - the _me_ looks more
subject-like, from certain perspectives, than _it_.
>In fact, that is what happened in some languages that are now split
>ergative: They used to have an active past/perfect (using a synthetic
>form of the verb) and a passive one (using a participle). But when the
>active construction fell out of use, the remaining one didn't have
>anything to be the passive of, so we call it an ergative construction
>instead. (And the original instrumental case that's used for the agent
>gets to double as the ergative case). I suppose that the coordination
>patterns changed as well, at least in some of the languages, to make
>the agent the syntactic subject too.
Nearly all Iranian langs seem to have passed through such split-ergative
stage like you describe, partly becoming nominative again at a later point.