Antipassives without overt expression of O

Bjoern Wiemer wiemerb at UNI-MAINZ.DE
Tue Dec 20 18:02:23 UTC 2011

Dear Stefanie,
you might want to consult Emma Geniušienė's seminal book on the 
"typoloigy of Reflexioves" (1987), where she also describes "absolute" 
diathesis (valency reduction), which is close to what you are asking 
for. In East Slavic and Lithuanian (Baltic) transitive verbs (normally 
with a general meaning of beating, hitting, biting or similar) can be 
marked with the reflexive marker and don't allow for coding the 
Undergoer (your O) and then just state a general property of the 
referent. Cf. Russ. (1b).
The same applies for Wst Slavic, where however no RM is used. Instead, 
the verb is left without any additional marker and the Undergoer is 
blocked. See (2b) for Polish (the same meanings).

(1a) Lošad' ljagaet sobaku. 'The horse is hitting / hits the dog (with 
its hoofs).'
(1b) Vnimanie! Lošad' ljagaet-sja. (-sja = agglutinated RM) 'Be careful! 
The/this horse can/is able to/likes to hit (with its hoofs).'

(2a) Koń kopie psa.
(2b) Uważaj! Koń kopie. (no marker)

Björn Wiemer.

> Dear colleagues,
> I am looking for examples of antipassive constructions where it is 
> syntactically impossible to overtly express the original O argument as 
> an oblique-marked adjunct.
> In the following example from Tzutujil, the transitive verb has 
> antipassive marking. Normally, this verb takes an A and an O argument, 
> but in this construction it appears that only the A can be mentioned 
> (Dayley 1985:346).
> Jaa7 ma xa ko7 nchapooni
> 3SG a lot scolds/grabs.ANTIP
> 'He scolds/grabs a lot'
> The reverse phenomenon appears to be well attested: it is not very 
> difficult to find examples of passives that do not allow overt 
> expression of the A. It is my impression that this is not the case for 
> antipassives. In fact, Tzutujil is the only example I know of. Of 
> course this impression might be wrong, so if anyone has other examples 
> I would like to hear about them.
> Best wishes,
> Stefanie Fauconnier
> University of Leuven

Björn Wiemer
Professor für Slavische Sprachwissenschaft
Institut für Slavistik
Jakob-Welder-Weg 18
D- 55099 Mainz
tel. ++49/ 6131/ 39 -22186
fax ++49/ 6131/ 39 -24709
e-mail: wiemerb at

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