Print

Print


Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
>Yoon Ha Lee wrote:
>
> > Mine uses active case marking and there *is* no passive (I couldn't think
> > of any way it would make sense).
>
>Same in my lang (Nur-ellen).  I also came to the conclusion that passive
>doesn't make sense in it.  A passive would move the object into the
>subject
>position, but by the logic of active case marking it would have to be
>put
>in the objective rather than the agentive case, which would mean no
>change
>of the case.

(These comments are direct at both comments above).
Yes, the subject of a passive would be marked as a patient/object.  But is
that all there is to being a subject, case?  Telek is active, and here is a
small list of uses for the passive:

1.  Forcing same-subject marking on clauses (rather than
different-subject).  (Great for rhyming, though the Telen don't rhyme all
that often as far as I can tell).
2.  Keeping the focus of the conversation on a single entity, whether or
not is an agent or patient in any given sentence.  (Notice the different
between: "I have a friend name John.  John was hit by a car" vs. "I have a
friend named John.  A car hit John."  They have the same meaning, but the
focus is different.)
3.  Allowing one to say what happened to someone else, when the perpetrator
is not known without recourse to structures like "Someone hit John".  (ie,
the focus stays on John in the passive, as in #2).  This is useful for
cases like "John got crushed" but I don't know if the "crusher" was a car,
tree, boulder, etc.

A lang that does not allow inanimate agents would have a difficult time
saying something like "A boulder crushed my car."  But "My car was crushed,
it was a boulder's fault" -- that's simple to do.  This isn't an issue for
Telek, since it does allow inanimate agents.

>Elves tend to look upon such language abuse with
>disgust,

So do the Telen.

>and see the lack of a passive voice in their language as a virtue rather
>than a defect.

The Telen are quite proud of their ability to make subtle differences in
pragmatics that would be impossible (or at least very lengthy) without a
passive.

In fact, they have other operations that can create new subjects and
objects.  "Subject Possessor Raising" takes the possessor of the subject,
and makes it the new subject, much like passivization does with an
object.  "Object Possessor Raising" takes the possessor of an object and
makes it the new object of the sentence.  They do these when the possessor
is more important to the conversation than the actual subjects or
objects.  Say, I'm talking about John, and I'm going to say something about
John's hat being blown away in the wind.  I would say "John hat blew away"
where "John" is the subject (so is "hat", but it is inert).  I don't know
of any active natlang that lacks Object Possessor Raising.  Maybe I ought
to write this up as a snippet of Telek for everybody to read the details about.


===============================
Marcus Smith
AIM:  Anaakoot
"When you lose a language, it's like
dropping a bomb on a museum."
   -- Kenneth Hale
===============================