implicit agents

Daniel Kaufman bahasawan at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 25 04:01:55 UTC 2010

> Davies 1995 mentions that agents of passives in Javanese must be 3rd
> person. I'm wondering whether the Javanese situation is like Indonesian, in
> which di-passives without overt agents can be interpreted as having 1/2
> person agents but 1/2 person pronouns in a by-phrase are not used, or
> whether di-passives even with implicit agents are restricted to 3rd person?
> (I've already contacted Bill and he suggested I email this list.)

It's not quite true that 1/2 person pronouns in a by-phrase are not used in
Indonesian. In current colloquial varieties as well as in classical Malay,
by-phrases (with oleh or sama) are used commonly with 1st and 2nd persons.

Siti di-cium sama saya
Siti PASS-kiss by 1sg
"Siti was kissed by me."

as well as,

Siti saya cium
Siti 1sg  kiss
"I kissed Siti"

Javanese seems to be far stricter in disallowing 1/2 persons in a by-phrase:

*Siti di-ambo   karo aku
 Siti  PASS-kiss by 1sg

Siti tak-ambo
Siti 1sg-kiss
'I kissed Siti'

As far as implicit agents, on the one hand, the passive doesn't strictly
disallow a 1/2 person reading but on the other hand it cannot be used when a
1/2 interpretation is the only plausible reading. If someone is washing
dishes, they can be asked the following and the dish washer could be the
addressee or a third person (just as in English):

Piring ini sudah di-cuci?
plate this already PASS-wash
'Has this dish already been washed?'

On the other hand, in neither Indonesian nor Javanese would it be felicitous
to ask,

#Anak-mu      selalu    di-cium      sebelum kamu pergi?
child-2sg.gen always  PASS-kiss before     2       go
(OK as, 'Is your child always kissed before you go?')

Implicit 2nd person agents are however perfectly fine in imperatives in both
Indonesian and Javanese:

Anak-mu di-cium dulu!
child-2sg PASS-kiss first
'Kiss you child first!'

Hope that helps,
Dan Kaufman
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