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Re: Ergative?

From:The Gray Wizard <dbell@...>
Date:Friday, September 28, 2001, 17:35
> From: Vasiliy Chernov > > 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?
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. This would cause ambiguity without an explicit passive marker on the verb. Does anyone know how pervasive this conflation of cases is among ergative languages? I was under the impression that only of minority of such languages use this construction.
> > 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?
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)"
> 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.
I think I read somewhere that while Tagalog is syntactically ergative that its argument expression uses a trigger mechanism. I may be completely wrong on this however.
> 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. Stay curious, David David E. Bell The Gray Wizard elivas en ishron ordelmar cotronian Wisdom begins in wonder.