Volitional patients

Ashild Nass ashild.nass at ILN.UIO.NO
Wed Mar 22 12:17:30 UTC 2006

Dear colleagues,

I'm wondering if anyone has information on languages where a patient 
arugment which is somehow volitionally involved in the event which 
affects it (e.g. 'letting' something happen to it) is marked differently 
from a regular nonvolitional patient. There are examples of this from 
Icelandic (examples from Barddal 2001):

1. Hann klóraDi mig        2. Hann klóraDi mér
    he.NOM scratched me.ACC       he.NOM scratched me.DAT

(D here used for the voiced dental approximant)
Both of these translate into English as 'he scratched me'; the 
difference is that in 1) the scratching is an act of violence, where as 
in 2) it refers to scratching in order to relieve an itch; in other 
words, the dative-marked participant in 2) voluntarily submits to the 
scratching, whereas the accusative-marked participant in 1) is a hapless 

Does anyone know of other languages that show similar patterns? The 
distinction wouldn't necessarily have to be in the case-marking of the 
object, any formal distinction on this basis is of interest.

Thanks in advance,

Åshild Næss
Åshild Næss
Postdoctoral researcher
Dept. of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies
University of Oslo
P.O. Box 1102 Blindern
0317 Oslo, Norway

Phone: (+47) 22 84 40 06

Office: HW327

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