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Re: Existential voice

From:Gregory Gadow <techbear@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 3, 2005, 14:12
Herman Miller wrote:
> > It's probably better to define it as a valence decreasing operation. I > don't know if any language that does this ... Thomas E. Payne gives > examples of "impersonal passives" which can make the subject of an > intransitive verb unspecified, but this wouldn't work with transitive > verbs like your two examples. (He also writes "We know of no languages > that employ specific morphology just for impersonal passives". Is it > possible that this verb form has other uses besides the "existential > voice"?)
The verb form is one I call the impersonal inflection. Its other two uses are to create the passive voice (the verbs "to do" or "to be" are put in the passive inflection and the main verb is inflected to agree with the agent. If there is no agent -- the ball was hit -- the main verb is put in the impersonal) and to create verb phrases like "John, thinking about his upcoming vacation, walked in to the wall", where "thinking" would be in the impersonal to distinguish it from the main verb "to walk." Gregory Gadow


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