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CONLANG  October 2001, Week 4

CONLANG October 2001, Week 4

Subject:

Re: just curious.. ;)

From:

Andreas Johansson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 28 Oct 2001 15:08:21 -0500

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H S Teoh wrote:
>On Fri, Oct 26, 2001 at 05:26:46PM -0400, Andreas Johansson wrote:
>[snip]
> > Odd - I'd never thought of "smells" in sentences like "It smells good"
>as
> > anything but a plain, boring, active verb.
>
>Um, to me, it's anything but plain... because in my L1, you *don't* use a
>verb for things like this, you use an adjective -- equivalent of "it is
>smelly". It's sorta like a statement about a static attribute as opposed
>to a sentence like
>         He runs.
>in which there is an active action happening.
>
>And as to the verb being *active*, in my mind it's anything *but* active
>:-) Of course, in English grammar it is, but keep in mind that English
>isn't exactly typical of what happens in other languages.

No, but English is extremely typical of what happens in English, and that
happens to be what I was talking about.

> > Why would one characterize it as
> > middle or passive voice?
>
>Because it's a verb that really isn't "doing an action"? To say "smells"
>is passive in this case might be a bit of a stretch, unless you explain it
>as, it's undergoing the process of being smelly or something like that.
>But middle voice makes perfect sense here, since the subject "it" is not
>volitionally "smelling", but it non-volitionally smells.

But, in English, volitionality has very little to do with voice. In a
sentence like _He falls_ you can usually safely assume the subject has no
control of his falling or not, yet the verb is active.
>
>Of course, I don't claim to be a linguist, so anyone who knows better
>please feel free to give me a clue. :-)

A'course, I'm no linguist either. If it's generally agreed among linguists
that _It smells good_ examplifies middle voice, I shall bow to their greater
knowledge and assume they're correct.

                                                   Andreas


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