Volitional patients

Suzanne Kemmer kemmer at RICE.EDU
Wed Mar 22 19:57:38 UTC 2006

In a 1994 paper on causative constructions,
Arie Verhagen and I discussed the accusative/dative
case alternations in causatives in typological perspective
(as described in work by Comrie, Cole, Saksena,
and others).

We related these alternations to the accusative/dative
alternations in simple, non-causative clauses found in Japanese and 
other languages,
which show semantic parallels. The relations have to do with the
meanings of the case markers, language-specifically
(and at a higher level of generalization, cross-linguistically),
and the meanings of the constructions
in which they occur. Simple two-participant clauses are in specific 
ways parallel
to causative clauses, structurally and semantically.

The reference:
Kemmer, Suzanne and Arie Verhagen. “The Grammar of Causatives and the 
Conceptual Structure of Events.” Cognitive Linguistics 5(2), 115-156. 
Reprinted in Mouton Classics, Vol. 2: From Syntax to Cognition, Mouton 
de Gruyter, 2002


On Mar 22, 2006, at 12:08 PM, Michael Noonan wrote:

> 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
> contrast:
> 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
Suzanne Kemmer
Herring Hall 209
Rice University

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