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On Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 7:58 AM, Cullen Kain <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
[...]
> I like this idea because it gives me a lot of freedom to make implications
> about the nature of certain verbs and the relationships of those verbs.  But
> I fear that ergativity may render this distinction meaningless (and
> therefore, diachronically, it would disappear).

I don't see why it would. Ergativity is mainly a matter of how you
assign cases to semantic roles; active/stative marking is a matter of
changing the semantics of the verb.

> Examples (where "ascend" is the unmarked, stative form and "lift" is the
> active):
> a. John.ERG ascend = John ascends
> b. John.ERG ascend.ACT = John climbs
> c. John.ABS ascend = John was ascended
> d. John.ABS ascend.ACT = John was lifted
>
> Are c. and d. too similar?  Essentially, my question is, does an
> ergative-absolutive alignment render an active-stative contrast unnecessary?

The English versions seem very similar, but that's just due to the
ambiguities of English. The meanings are quite distinct.
Given the choice of English glosses, though, it's possible that you're
using "active" and "stative" to refer to different qualities than I
would.

-l.