Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Detail #314: "Untransitive" Verbs and an Odd Voice

Let's consider verbs with meanings such as 'to be at', 'to stand at', 'to lie at', etc. These verbs could easily take accusative complements without being perceived as really being transitive (or for that part, in an ergative language might fail to have the subject marked for ergative!).

Now, we can start considering what it'd mean for an accusative complement of a verb not to be an object. This would mean we can't coordinate them, despite identical marking, with other objects:
*John wasat and hated school
 This in itself is kind of interesting. However, we could imagine something really weird going on here: using some kind of circumstantial (or whatever) voice to turn these verbs into actual transitive verbs; then, some voice marker could be used to permit something along the lines of
John was being be-at-ening and hated school
where obviously be-at-ening is a pretend form in English, a nonsense thing I use to present this form. This use of voice would probably have to be called something like explicit active or somesuch.

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