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Re: Ergative?

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Thursday, September 27, 2001, 17:45
Quoting Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>:

> On Thu, 27 Sep 2001 00:02:01 -0500, Thomas R. Wier > <trwier@...> wrote: > > > >There are actually some ergative languages where the ergative > >marks agents of any kind, including those in passive sentences, > >where we'd normally expect something called instrumental. > > BTW, is there a simple criterion to distinguish the ergative > construction from the passive one?
That's a good question. I'm not an expert on ergativity (Dixon is; check out his book of that name in the Cambridge series). I would think that if a language has distinct forms for active and passive (ignoring whether it is ergative), then that might constitute such a criterion. For example, in Phaleran, a detransitive morpheme explicitly distinguishes between passive, which has this, and the active, which lacks it: ACTIVE: Ahrallu pû gethasyonti. Governor.ERG boy-ABS see.TR.3SgPfRe.S 'The Governor looked at the boy.' PASSIVE: Pû ahrânto gethabronti. boy-ABS Governor.INST see.DETR.3SgPfRe.S 'The boy was looked at by the Governor.' (The valence-marking situation in Phaleran is complex; the suffix -asyo- here marked TR(ansitive) might be considered an active suffix, but it doesn't appear in every active construction.) So, you could artificially replace the ergative morphology with nominative/accusative morphology (and you would see this with Phaleran pronouns), but you'd still get distinct active and passive renderings. So, I think the two notions are quite distinct. ============================== Thomas Wier <trwier@...> "If a man demands justice, not merely as an abstract concept, but in setting up the life of a society, and if he holds, further, that within that society (however defined) all men have equal rights, then the odds are that his views, sooner rather than later, are going to set something or someone on fire." Peter Green, in _From Alexander to Actium_, on Spartan king Cleomenes III