[Lingtyp] Syncretism between forms encoding source and agent

Claude Hagège claude-hagege at wanadoo.fr
Tue Sep 25 06:31:13 EDT 2018


Dear Randy, dear David, dear all,

 

         To my knowledge, Mandarin由 (yóu) does not specifically mark the agent, but   the participant responsible for some situation or action, a participant who, thereby, acts as a source, as in

 

准备工作 由 我负责 (zhǔnbèi gōngzùo yóu wǒ fùzé) « the person responsible for the preparation work will be me ».

 

The Mandarin adposition which marks the agent is usually 被 (bèi) rather than 由 ((yóu). For example,

 

 他们没有 被 困难吓倒 (tāmen méiyǒu bèi  kùnnán xiàdăo « they have not been frightened away by difficulties ».

 

It is interesting to note that, contrary to the common Sino-Tibetan tendency by which actor and source use the same adposition, Mandarin does not, at least in its present literary usage. This situation leads us to ask whether the notions of source and actor are not actually, despite the frequent formal syncretism induced by the semantic kinship, distinct notions.

This suggestion could be borne out by Malay-Indonesian facts. According to David, « the use of dari to mark agents is characteristic of Eastern contact varieties of Malay. [He has]  heard it in, among other places, Papua, Halmahera, Ambon, Maluku Tenggara and Timor.  And it is also attested in the Kirinda subdialect of Sri Lankan Malay ».  This use, though not quite widespread,  is not unknown in Jakarta, in Bandung and in North-West Sumateran varieties of Indonesian. In  these varieties, the most frequent mark of agents is oleh, especially, but not only, after a passive verb, marked as such by the prefix di-. Interestingly, however, oleh and dari can both be used in certain constructions. For example, in Bandung, I have heard both 

 

dia  tidak  mati  dari  penyakit

 

and

 

dia tidak mati oleh  penyakit, 

 

both meaning, literally, « he is not dead because of illness ».

 

According to informants (to the extent that their judgments are reliable…), the use of oleh rather than dari in this context stresses the fat that illness is seen as a deciding factor, implicitly comparable to a human being in terms of efficacy (so to say !).

 

Thus, the differences between the notions of source and agent, although often treated the same way in many languages, deserve an indepth study.

 

All the best

 

Claude  (Collège de France, Paris, chaire de théorie linguistique)

(claude-hagege at wanadoo.fr)



De : Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] De la part de Randy J. LaPolla
Envoyé : samedi 21 juillet 2018 13:43
À : Ponrawee Prasertsom
Cc : lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Objet : Re: [Lingtyp] Syncretism between forms encoding source and agent

 

Sorry, there is a typo in my last message: the Mandarin pronunciation of the Sinitic word I mentioned should be yóu (not yǒu).

 

Randy

-----

Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (羅仁地)

Professor of Linguistics and Chinese, School of Humanities 

Nanyang Technological University

HSS-03-45, 14 Nanyang Drive | Singapore 637332

http://randylapolla.net/

Most recent book:

https://www.routledge.com/The-Sino-Tibetan-Languages-2nd-Edition/LaPolla-Thurgood/p/book/9781138783324

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 21 Jul 2018, at 7:31 PM, Randy J. LaPolla <randy.lapolla at gmail.com> wrote:

 

Dear Ponrawee Prasertsom,

In the Sino-Tibetan languages it is common for the same adposition to be used for ablative (source), instrument, manner adverb, actor, and/or causal clause marker. See the following papers:

 

LaPolla, Randy J. 1995. On the utility of the concepts of markedness and prototypes in understanding the development of morphological systems. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology  66.4:1149-1185.

www.ntu.edu.sg/home/randylapolla/Papers/LaPolla_1995_On_the_Utility_of_the_Concepts_of_Markedness_and_Prototypes_in_Understanding_the_Development_of_Morphological_Systems.pdf 

 

LaPolla, Randy J. 1995. Ergative marking in Tibeto-Burman. In Yoshio Nishi, James A. Matisoff, & Yasuhiko Nagano (eds.), New horizons in Tibeto-Burman morpho-syntax (Senri Ethnological Studies 41), 189-228. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.

www.ntu.edu.sg/home/randylapolla/Papers/LaPolla_1995_Ergative_Marking_in_Tibeto-Burman.pdf

 

LaPolla, Randy J. 2004. On nominal relational morphology in Tibeto-Burman. In Ying-jin Lin, Fang-min Hsu, Chun-chih Lee, Jackson T.-S. Sun, Hsiu-fang Yang, and Dah-an Ho (eds.),  Studies on Sino-Tibetan languages: Papers in honor of Professor Hwang-cherng Gong on his seventieth birthday, 43-74. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, December 2004.

www.ntu.edu.sg/home/randylapolla/Papers/LaPolla_2004_On_Nominal_Relational_Morphology_in_Tibeto-Burman.pdf

 

These papers mainly talk about Tibeto-Burman, but in Sinitic (Chinese) the same is true of the particle yǒu (由).

 

All the best,

Randy   

-----

Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (羅仁地)

Professor of Linguistics and Chinese, School of Humanities 

Nanyang Technological University

HSS-03-45, 14 Nanyang Drive | Singapore 637332

http://randylapolla.net/

Most recent book:

https://www.routledge.com/The-Sino-Tibetan-Languages-2nd-Edition/LaPolla-Thurgood/p/book/9781138783324

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 21 Jul 2018, at 6:06 AM, Ponrawee Prasertsom <ponrawee.pra at gmail.com> wrote:

 

Dear all,

 

I am exploring research possibilities on the language of motion events.

 

Does anyone know of a language that employs the same form (in any strategy--case, preposition, syntactic roles etc.) that for coding source (the starting point in a motion event, as in: I walked *from* my house to school) and agent? 

 

Related references would also be highly appreciated.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ponrawee Prasertsom

 

Graduate Student

Department of Linguistics

Chulalongkorn University

Bangkok, Thailand

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