Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: antipassives in Tokana (long...)

From:Matt Pearson <mpearson@...>
Date:Monday, February 8, 1999, 5:57
David G. Durand wrote:

> >if the direct object is not affected (in the usual way) by > >the action, then it will normally appear in the dative case with > >the verb in the antipassive: > > > > Na Tsion kahte-m > > the:Erg John hit-me:Abs > > "John hit me" > > > > Ne Tsion u-kahte-ma > > the:Abs John Antipass-hit-me:Dat > > "John did some hitting at me" > > >The second sentence might be used if John took a swing at me and > >missed, or if John hit me but it had no effect on me (e.g. I just > >ignored it). > > Is this a variation of the partial effect usage, or are there some > differences? Are there any verbs that can't take the antipassive? Of > course, given that it's a new construction, it's greedy for us to > expect > that you've had time to discover the lexical ramifications...
The rule, I think, is that any/every verb which takes an absolutive argument, whether transitive or intransitive, can appear in the antipassive. So I guess the only verbs which *cannot* appear in the antipassive are intransitive verbs which take an ergative subject (activity verbs like "walk", "sleep", "cry", "sing", "dance") and intransitive verbs which take a dative subject (stative verbs denoting perceptions or emotions, like "be happy" and "be forgetful"). Whether the antipassive receives a non-affected object construal, a partially-affected object construal, and/or a progressive construal depends on the meaning of the verb. "Hit", for example, is likely to get a non-affected object construal, since it is not possible to partially hit someone. "Build", on the other hand, is likely to get a partially-affected object and/or progressive construal, since it is not possible to build something without affecting it. :-) As I see it, the role of the antipassive prefix is to transform a verb denoting an accomplishment or achievement ("hit", "build", "eat up") into a verb denoting an activity ("do some hitting", "do some building", "do some eating"). Whether the activity is viewed as partially affecting the patient, or not affecting the patient, or whatever, is determined by context. Incidentally, I've made one small but important change to the antipassive construction since I wrote my original message: The addition of the antipassive prefix now no longer forces the ergative subject into the absolutive case. Instead, the ergative case is retained: Na Tsion kahten kal "John (erg) hit the man (abs)" Na Tsion ukahte "John (erg) did some hitting" Na Tsion ukahtena kale "John (erg) did some hitting to the man" I did this to make antipassive verbs look more like underived activity verbs like "sleep" and "walk", which take ergative subjects. Note that since the subject now remains in the ergative case, it is perhaps not strictly accurate to call this an antipassive construction. Perhaps I should change the name to something else... Anyway, thanks so much for your comments! Matt.