Volitional patients

Michael Noonan noonan at CSD.UWM.EDU
Wed Mar 22 18:08:49 UTC 2006

In a number of languages where an accusative/absolutive contrasts with a
dative, if there is a choice between the two, the dative signals either
greater control over the event or greater involvement, perhaps simply by
focusing on the emotional or physical state of the patient.

For the first, Japanese causatives of intransitives show the following

Hanako ga Taroo o ik-ase-ta
Hanako nom Taroo acc go-caus-past
'Hanako made Taroo go'

Hanako ga Taroo ni ik-ase-ta
Hanako nom Taroo dat go-caus-past
'Hanako convinced/got Taroo to go'

In Chantyal, the contrast between absolutive and dative for objects can be
exploited, with the dative being used to express the patient's physical or
emotional involvement in the event.  In the example below the absolutive
[on 'chicken'] is unmarked: 

kyata-s@ cu nHaka tha-i
boy-erg this chicken cut-perf
'The boy killed the chicken [by cutting off its head]'

kyata-s@ cu nHaka-ra tha-i
boy-erg this chicken-dat cut-perf
'The boy cut the chicken' [i.e. he wounded it]

Mickey Noonan

On Wed, 22 Mar 2006, Ashild Nass wrote:

> 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 
> victim.
> 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

Michael Noonan			Professor of Linguistics
Dept. of English		Office:   414-229-4539
University of Wisconsin		Fax:	  414-229-2643
Milwaukee, WI  53201		Messages: 414-229-4511
USA				Webpage:  http://www.uwm.edu/~noonan

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