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Vasily:

I find this very interesting; I've heard of it before but haven't
really had all the information.  Could it be Navajo that was used as
an example of an "active" language?

Navajo does have an inverse construction -- a prefix that must be
used on verbs if the agent is not of higher animacy than the patient,
I believe.

I think "Hettan" might be more commonly referred to in English as
"Hittite."

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Vasiliy Chernov wrote:

> Fri, 14 Jan 2000 01:18:23 +0100 daniel andreasson wrote:
>
> >It sounds a lot like the 'inverse' construction. This was
> >discussed some months ago on this list.
> >
> >When the natural hierarchy of the language is broken,
> >a special form of the verb or noun is used. Example:
> >Hierarchy: 1p > 2p > 3p
> >
> >1p acts on 2p > 'direct' form
> >
> >I hit-DIR you = 'I hit you'
> >
> >2p acts on 1p > 'inverse' form, because it breaks the hierarchy.
> >
> >I hit-INV you = 'You hit me'
> >
>
> Yes, there is something in common... But the system I meant involves a
> hierarchy of classes, not persons. And I'm sure it was treated as an
> example of *active*.
>
> I can recall some more details that might help.
>
> The article (in Russian) discussed the remnants of *active* that can be
> found in Proto-Indo-European. It quoted some source in English about some
> Amerind language, which was adduced as an example of active.
>
> But mostly it dealt with Hettan. I don't remember all details, but it was
> argued that Hettan neuter nouns are similar to inactive, and epicene nouns
> (corresponding to masc. and fem. in other IE tongues), to active.
>
> It was maintained that Hettan neutra must be replaced in certain contexts
> with derivatives having the suffix -ant- (resembling the active participle
> suffix), and that the gender of main actants affects the choice of the
> verb's conjugation.
>
> The situation in Hettan was compared with what the author cited as
*active*,
> and it was claimed that they are basically similar.
>
> Does anybody remember the rules of Hettan syntax?
>
> Basilius,
> hoping that even if he's seeing things, the above still may be fruitful for
> conlanging