At 8:02 PM -0400 10/25/98, Tim Smith wrote:
>At 11:35 PM 10/23/98 -0500, David G. Durand wrote:
>>>> iii. active system
>>>> Agent       (A)
>>>> Patient     (P)
>>>> Subject     (S)
>>>Do these constitute three separate cases?  I don't know if T. fits this.
>>These would be 3 separate cases. I was trying to list cases on the left,
>>and roles on the right, with case names chosen as traditional within that
>>kind of system. I guessed on the names of the cases for active systems
>>'cause I couldn't remember
>With respect, this is not my understanding of what is generally meant by
>"active languages".

You are quite probably right. Aside from ergative/absolutive and
nominative/accusative languages, the exact typologies seem to be much more
approximate. Payne uses the term "split intransitivity" for this
phenomenon, but notes that others call it an "active" system, among other
things. The first book on this topic I read was relatively old, and it may
well have used the term in an unusual way, and I glommed onto it. All
sources agree that the 3-case system is quite rare.

... Good clear definitions snipped, but will be saved.

>However, I agree with what I gather is your main point: that the system
>Sally has devised for Teonaht doesn't exist in any known natlang (which is
>why it's hard to figure out what to call it, though to me "split nominative"
>sounds reasonable), but that it nevertheless doesn't sound particularly
>"unnatural".  In fact, it sounds natural enough to make me wonder if there
>might have been such languages but there just don't happen to be any
>currently extant.  (I've often wondered which of the apparent gaps in
>language typology are "real" -- that is, rooted in actual language
>universals -- and which are accidental, caused only by the vagaries of what
>languages happen to have gone extinct at particular times.)

This is exactly what I was saying before. I am certain that our
"universals" are  mixture of accidental facts (we clearly don't have
examples of all possible languages, so can never know if we have all
possible language types), consequences of human neaural architecture and
processing capacity, pragmatic effects (as to communicative efficiency in
survival-related situations), and so on.

We also have a problem becaused many universals are in fact only
approximately true. They also depend, to some degree, on our analytical
techniques and assumptions, our ideas about grammatical structure, and the
topics that have been well-studied.

I won't say that it doesn't exist, but I've never seen anything like it
described. You've got me right on the rest of it.

  -- David
David Durand              [log in to unmask]  \  [log in to unmask]
Boston University Computer Science        \  Sr. Analyst   \  Dynamic Diagrams
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