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Re: Ergative?

From:The Gray Wizard <dbell@...>
Date:Friday, September 28, 2001, 18:55
> From: Vasiliy Chernov > > On Fri, 28 Sep 2001 13:31:29 -0400, The Gray Wizard <dbell@...> > wrote: > [...] > >> The house (P, abs) was built by my grandfather (erg.). The > house (S, abs) > >> will stand for long. > >> > >> No? > > > >This is the case where ergative is used not just for the A-function > argument > >of an active predicate, but when it is also used for the oblique > reference > >to the demoted A-function argument in the passive. > > How do you measure demotedness?
Passive operators typically have the semantic effect of giving topical prominence to the Patient thus "demoting" the Agent which may be unexpressed or obliquely referenced.
> Actually, I meant *English*. How can you tell the English _by_ from an > ergative marker?
In isolation, I suppose you can't, however, English in general and the English _by_ in particular show no other signs of ergative patterning. Ergative patterning would require The girl-ERG kiss-ACT the boy-ABS *_By the girl_ kissed the boy The boy-ABS kiss-PASS (the girl-ERG) The boy was kissed (_by the girl_). The former does not occur in English.
> [...] > >> My father builds (antipassive) houses. > >> > >> How do you decline such an analysis? > > > >Antipassives are difficult to express in English since English > doesn't have > >an antipassive. Consider: > > > >(1) My father-ERG build-ACT houses-ABS "My father builds houses" > >(2) My father-ABS build-ANTIP (houses-DAT) "My father builds, (houses)" > > How do you identify the case of _houses_ as Dative and not simply Oblique? > The construction in (2) does look superficialy accusative, and I > guess real > verbal forms don't have the labels 'Active' and 'Antipassive', red on > yellow, all caps... :)
Of course I should have said simply Oblique. I was influenced by my conlang which uses the dative in this case.
> >> 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'? > > > >I don't know enough about Tagalog to follow this. > > My point wasn't about Tagalog; just imagine you're reading a description > like the above... I haven't invented it myself, just compressed to one > sentence.
I still have insufficient information to follow this. In what way does having multiple passives further confuse the distinction between 'ergative vs. antipassive' and 'passive vs. active'? Stay curious, David David E. Bell The Gray Wizard elivas en ishron ordelmar cotronian Wisdom begins in wonder.