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Re: Ergative?

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Friday, September 28, 2001, 15:44
On Thu, 27 Sep 2001 14:52:12 -0400, The Gray Wizard <dbell@...> wrote:

>> BTW, is there a simple criterion to distinguish the ergative >> construction from the passive one? > >I'm not sure I understand your question. Ergative constructions and Passive >constructions are not mutually exclusive.
I've heard of that, but I don't understand how such situations are analyzed - that's exactly what my question was about.
>Ergativity is the discriminatory application of case roles to the core >arguments of a predicate based on a formal parallel between the P-function >argument of a transitive predicate and the S-function argument of an >intransitive one.
Consider how sentences with passives are construed. The house (P, abs) was built by my grandfather (erg.). The house (S, abs) will stand for long. No?
> Passivity, on the other hand, is a voice operator used to >modify the valency or argument structure of a predicate. NPs are typically >marked for the former while VPs are typically marked for the latter. While >antipassive voice is more common among ergative languages, a number also >have passive forms (my conlang, amman iar, is ergative and has both passive >and antipassive voice operators).
My father builds (antipassive) houses. How do you decline such an analysis? Maybe, I should explain where my question comes from. In the thread 'Rating languages' I mentioned Tagalog among the hardest ones; I remembered that I'd failed to grasp something important about its syntax, and the matter was partly that the grammars I'd read described it as a nominative lang, while I felt this wasn't quite adequate. Typically, the descriptions went on as follows: "T. has normal active voice; curiously, it also has several passives; moreover, it uses its passives more often than its active voice; BTW, imperative sentences are construed using one of the passives (e. g. 'drink it' as 'let it be drunk by you')". Do you see where I'm pointing? Reminds of something, doesn't it? This is why I ask about the criteria. How do they draw the distinction between 'ergative vs. antipassive' and 'passive vs. active'? Taking into account the fact that the ergative construction sometimes evolves from the passive one (e. g. in Indo-Aryan), the question doesn't seem to me an easy one. Basilius


The Gray Wizard <dbell@...>
Michael Poxon <m.poxon@...>
Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>