Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Ditransitivity (again!)

From:Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>
Date:Monday, February 2, 2004, 8:25
I never talked about a limitation to 4 core arguments,
on the contrary, I said that we can very well imagine
a "to-sell" function using a dozen of arguments, ten
of them (for ex) being facultative. The example you
quote accords exactly to my opinion.

By "semantic actant", I only mean that we have to
think semantically, and not syntactically (various
syntaxes in natlangs giving us only clues about
semantics). For instance, I read in some other message
a definition for the dative case, sounding like "the
case of the indirect object". That doesn't mean a
thing to me, it's purely syntactic. It you talk of
"beneficiary", or "maleficiary", for ex, that would be
semantic indeed.

The point is that the grammars usually explain the
meanings of the cases (and other grammatical topics),
partly from semantic, and partly from syntactic
considerations. So we come to an awful mess.

The example of "to sell" is very instructive, and also
the fact that is comes spontaneously to one's mind
when we want to discuss actance. In fact, it would be
more generally the concept of "exchanging", itself
derived from "changing property". It looks like a set
of molecules, from the simplest one to the infinitely
complex. Ex:
- I take this cake. Meaning: before, its was not mine,
now it is mine.
- I steal this cake. Meaning: before, it was
somebody's else, now it is mine (not legally, but
factually. Anyway, Property = Theft, said Proudhon).
- I get this cake by exchange. Meaning: before, it was
not mine, now it is mine, and something that was mine
is now no more mine, the two concepts being relied)
- I buy this cake. The same, but what I gave in
exchange was something symbolic (money..)
- I buy this cake pre- (or post-) paid. The same, but
I paid, either in advance, or later (the two parts of
the exchange being de-synchronized)
- I buy this cake post-paid at a reduced price. The
same, + I bargained and got a better price than first
- etc, etc.

So we can imagine that in a language, we shall have
for ex not only the (general) verb "to buy", but also
something like "to prebuy", "to bargbuy", "to
bargprebuy", etc. The onlit limit would be: are those
verbs useful or not ? It all depends on what this
language would be used for.

And if we look at "to exchange" as a programming
function, we could describe it for ex like:
f = to_exchange(arg1, arg2, arg3, ..., argn)
where args could be:
arg1 = the entity being initiating the exchange
arg2 = what is being exchanged
arg3 = the 2nd actant of the exchange
arg4 = flag for physical or symbolic counter-value
arg5 = counter-value
arg6 = 0=synchronized, 1=prepaid, 2=postpaid
arg7 = 0=no bargaining, 1=bargaining
etc, etc.

Of course, we could come to real "monster" verbs, but
actually, isn't it the same in organic chemistry ?
Some molecules have dozens and dozens of different
atoms, organized a certain way.

--- Andrew Patterson <endipatterson@...> wrote:
> "It is not a question of syntactic cases, but of > semantic actants. Every > verb has its own scheme." > > I am not sure what you mean by a "semantic actant", > I have made a brief > search of the internet, but cannot find anything > where it talks about > only "four core arguments". It would be instructive > if you could list say > about twelve verbs with their core arguments. > > What about "part-exchange" > > I part-exchanged my car. > > Doesn't this imply everything that the word "sell" > implies, and other > things. > > 1. there is a seller, the one who sells. > 2. there is a buyer, the one to whom sth is sold) > 3. there is a "something" that is for sale > 4. there is a price, expressed in some abstract > unit. > 5. the buyer possesses sth which has a lower value > (in terms of the same > abstract unit mentioned in 4.)than the thing that is > for sale. > 6. A negociation is made between the buyer and > seller to take the lower > valued item in partial payment. > > I make that six core arguments. > > Andrew Patterson.
===== Philippe Caquant "Le langage est source de malentendus." (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free web site building tool. Try it!