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Evidence of active system in Russian [Re: Roll Your Own IE language]

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Wednesday, April 7, 1999, 6:19
Nik Taylor wrote:

>Not quite. Active languages may have those features, but they're not >necessary. Active and stative verbs exist in all languages. Active >verbs are verbs of action, stative verbs are states. The definition
>an active verb is one that is sort of "half-and-half". In an active >language, instead of nominative and accusative or absolutive and >ergative, there's absolutive and nominative. In an intransitive >sentence, the S may be either absolutive or nominative. Typically, >nominative is used to indicate volition, while absolutive indicates >non-volition. Thus, "I-abs fell" = "I fell", like by accident, while >"I-nom fell" might be used to indicate intentional falling, or
>that the individual had some sort of control over the falling, that
>didn't exercise, that is, he fell due to his carelessness.
>animate/inanimate is involved, that is, an inanimate noun is never >nominative for S. That theory of IE suggests that that is why every
>language uses the same form for nominative and accusative in neuter >nouns. Animate nouns frequently used nominative in S, thus, when it >evolved to an accusative language, the old absolutive became
>while inanimate nouns frequently used absolutive in S, and since >ergative was rare to begin with (it's rare that an inanimate noun
>be in agent position), it was natural for the absolutive S to be >reanalyzed as a homophonous nominative.
You know what? I have the same theory, about IE being an active langauge at one time. I'm finally buckling down on learning Russian, which I seriously want to be fluent in (along with Spanish and possibly Arabic). I noticed that masculine singular nouns and all plural nouns have animate/inanimate distinction in the accusative case: if animate, same form as genitive; if inanimate, the nominative. This could almost cause Russian to be a four-gender language, since some inanimate masculine nouns have a different plural formation than usual (like _dom_ "house_ > _doma_ "houses", not _domy_ -- this is probably more likely remnants of an archaic dual number though). This would need further study, since my knowledge in this language is still rather limited, but a missing link to PIE might've been found here! I for one am interested, because I plan on working in "two- dimensional" gender (both animate/inanimate and masculine/feminine/neuter axes) as well as an mixed-active system into Tech. Danny _______________________________________________________________ Get Free Email and Do More On The Web. Visit