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Edward Heil wrote:
> "Active" languages don't really have transitive sentences.  They have
> "animate" and "inanimate" nouns, and "active" and "stative" verbs, and the
> noun has to match the verb.

Not quite.  Active languages may have those features, but they're not
necessary.  Active and stative verbs exist in all languages.  Active
verbs are verbs of action, stative verbs are states.  The definition of
an active verb is one that is sort of "half-and-half".  In an active
language, instead of nominative and accusative or absolutive and
ergative, there's absolutive and nominative.  In an intransitive
sentence, the S may be either absolutive or nominative.  Typically,
nominative is used to indicate volition, while absolutive indicates
non-volition.  Thus, "I-abs fell" = "I fell", like by accident, while
"I-nom fell" might be used to indicate intentional falling, or perhaps
that the individual had some sort of control over the falling, that he
didn't exercise, that is, he fell due to his carelessness.  Frequently,
animate/inanimate is involved, that is, an inanimate noun is never
nominative for S.  That theory of IE suggests that that is why every IE
language uses the same form for nominative and accusative in neuter
nouns.  Animate nouns frequently used nominative in S, thus, when it
evolved to an accusative language, the old absolutive became accusative;
while inanimate nouns frequently used absolutive in S, and since
ergative was rare to begin with (it's rare that an inanimate noun will
be in agent position), it was natural for the absolutive S to be
reanalyzed as a homophonous nominative.

--
"It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father
was hanged." - Irish proverb
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