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At 9:27 PM -0000 10/23/98, Mathias M. Lassailly wrote:
>Clinton Moreland-Stringham wrote:
>> Okay, so what is "he fell" (deliberately)?  It looks to me like it's
>> some sort of active system (i.e., neither ergative or accusative).
>>
>
>Read David's post re. agent/patient system. Another logic.

Clinton is right, as the agent patient system is often called an "active"
system (but I don't think I used that term).

The question that I have is whether Clinton's experiencer is really the S
role, or some sort on indirect case. If it's always used for S (subject of
intransitive sentence), then we have an active, or agent/patient system. If
not, it still might be used in the S role to differentiate level of
agenthood in intransitive sentences. I thought that this was Sally's
suggestion.

There are a few ways that an extra case could be used to supplement such a
standard system.

If the other case used for S in intransitive sentences is Agent, it's
essentially a nominative/accusative system that uses an indirect case to
modify the agentive status of intransitive verb arguments. I assume that a
nom/acc system would use Patient for agentive instransitive clauses, and
the indirect case as a de-agentive variant.

NOM=AGT, ACC=PAT:

he-NOM kill you-ACC.
David-NOM fidgets. (actively as agent)
door-EXP closes.   (not actively)

 If the Patient is the default, you'd have an essentially ergative system,
with the same kind of distinction. An erg/abs system might use the indirect
case to express "agentivization" of the normal absolutive argument, but use
of the ergative seems more natural for this function.But there's no reason
that things have to be reversed. The absolutive could still be thought of
as not an agent, but as still more agentive than an "experiencer", so that
the indirect EXP case, would be a de-agentivized absolutive or Patient case.

ERG=AGT, ABS=PAT:

he-ERG kill you-ABS
David-ABS fidgets. (does it himself, actively)
door-EXP closes. (closes, but not actively)
door-ABS closes. (ooh spooky Halloween, the door closed itself!)

The interaction of such systems with passivization and other argument
moving processes is really interesting...

  -- David



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