Antipassives without overt expression of O

Alexander Letuchiy alexander_letuchiy at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 22 09:10:42 UTC 2011

Dear Stefanie and everyone,
In Adyghe, a West Caucasian (Circassian) language, the antipassive / object impersonal meaning is expressed by the change of the final root vowel from schwa to -e. Interestingly this operation goes in different ways for verbs 'eat' vs. 'drink' and 'read' vs. all other verbs:
- with all verbs but 'eat', 'drink' and 'read' in antipassive forms, the patient cannot be expressed in any way. The antipassive verb is morphologically intransitive and monovalent: the former A becomes an S, is marked with absolutive and cross-referenced with absolutive prefixes:
a-š'             pis'me-r          je-txǝ
that-OBL  letter-ABS   DYN (dynamic verb)-write (transitive)
'he writes a letter'
a-r             ma-txe
that-ABS    DYN-write (antipassive)
'he writes' (patient is unexpressable)
- with 'eat' in the antipassive form, the patient can be expressed, but with an instrumental peripheral NP which does not take part in verbal cross-reference
a-š'              lǝ-r             je-šxǝ
that-OBL   meat-ABS   DYN-eat (transitive)
'he eats meat'
a-r            (lǝ-č̣'e)       ma-šxe
that-ABS      meat-INS    DYN-eat
'he eats - or, with instrumental, he feeds on meat'
- finally, with 'read' and 'drink' in antipassive forms, the patient is expressed with an oblique NP, the verb is intransitive bivalent, and the patient is morphologically marked as an indirect object (I think the letter is a bit too long but I can also send these examples).

Yours sincerely,

Alexander Letuchiy, Moscow
Am 20.12.2011 17:46, schrieb Stefanie Fauconnier: 

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 


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze                                                                     
Institut für Allgemeine & Typologische Sprachwissenschaft      
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