passive / locative

Tue May 5 14:19:58 UTC 1998

Paul Hopper writes:

> But the similarity of the locative preposition/prefix di- and the 3rd
> person passive prefix di- is surely a modern conicidence, isn't it?

I think we need to decompose this claim into two parts: "modern"
and "coincidence".

With regard to the latter, "coincidence", I would argue no:  I think I
have a nice formal analysis which unites the two quite convincingly.
(I'm in the middle of writing the paper up right now.)  And of
course it would support my claim if this pattern of coalescence
would recur cross-linguistically -- which is why I put out the query.

With regard to the former, "modern":  it may indeed be the case that
the two were originally different, but I don't see that as having a
bearing on the synchronic analysis.  Presumably, things that are
different can become similar and ultimately identical.  I'm not a
historical linguist, but I believe that the locative _di_ is quite
ancient; in fact, I think there are even parallels in Austroasiatic,
providing support for the proposed relation ship between Austroasiatic and
Austronesian.  As for the passive _di_, Paul supports the _ni_ >
_di_ theory, but I believe that there's at least one other theory that
has been banded around, namely that it comes from the 3rd person
pronoun _dia_.  (Which in turn has been suggested to come from
the pronoun _ia_ preceded by an oblique marker _d-_, which is of
course the locative _di_.)

David Gil

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