passive/causative homonymy

Johanna Laakso johanna.laakso at UNIVIE.AC.AT
Fri Sep 16 11:43:12 UTC 2011

Dear Wolfgang & others,

As for Estonian, the Finnic passive marker really is a combination of causative TTA and reflexive SEN (with a slot between these for tense or mood markers), the latter of which can be left out in some forms such as the connegative ones (which leads to homonymy as in Estonian ei soovi-ta NEG wish-TTA ‘does not recommend’ ~ ‘is not wished’). Structurally similar is the (fairly obsolete) Hungarian passive, consisting of causative (T)AT and reflexive/intransitive IK, as in használ-tat-ik ‘is used’. So, the motivation is (to use the example from Tapani Lehtinen's (1982) standard work on the Finnic passive): ‘has himself killed' > ‘gets killed, is killed’.

Univ.Prof. Dr. Johanna Laakso
Universität Wien, Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft (EVSL)
Abteilung Finno-Ugristik
Campus AAKH Spitalgasse 2-4 Hof 7
A-1090 Wien
johanna.laakso at
Project ELDIA: 

Wolfgang Schulze kirjoitti 16.9.2011 kello 13.24:

> Dear friends,
> I'm currently working on instances of passive/causative homonymy. Let me just give two examples from Manchu (Tungus) to illustrate the problem:
> Passive:
> tere         inenggi         mi-ni            jakûn     morin                hûlha-bu-fi
> that         day               1SG-GEN     eight      horse:NOM      steal-PASS-PFV:CNV
> 'On that day my eight horses were stolen (by bandits).'
> Causative:
> bi                morin    be        ule-bu-me
> 1SG:NOM   horse    ACC     drink-CAUS-IPFV:CNV
> 'I let the horse drink (water).'
> For -bu- marking the causative we might think of the verb bu- 'give' as a potential source of grammaticalization. However, it is far from being clear whether the same -bu- is present in the passive form.  Usually, -bu- is said to represent a homonymous pair, not an instance of polysemy. However note that in some other Tungus languages, the formal merger of passive and causative may show up, too (apart from another, specialized passive morpheme). Similar instances occur in Korean (e.g.  cap-hita 'let/have catch, be caught', mul-lita 'have/let bite, be bitten' etc.). Again, grammars normally speak of secondary homonymy due to specific sound processes. Nevertheless, I'm not sure whether the parallel between (Southern) Tungus and Korean is mere coincidence (given the fact that the languages at issue are spoken in relative neighborhood). However, before trying to provide an explanation based on the assumption of the presence of polysemy (that would be rather complex in nature - I do not want to bother you with this here), I would be eager to learn whether there are other languages that exhibit the same type of homonymy, that is a single (!) strategy (morphological or analytic) to encode passives and causatives. Likewise, I'm totally ignorant whether this phenomenon has already been discussed in the literature (my fault, I admit!). So, I would be extremely thankful, if you could tell me about helpful references and whether there are other languages  that show analogous strategies. Maybe Estonian is another candidate,  cf. soovi-ta 'be wished' ~ '*have something being wished' ~ '*have s.o. wish' > 'recommend', but I'm not sure whether I have got these data right.  
> Very best wishes,
> Wolfgang  
> -- 
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> Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze                                                                    
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> Institut für Allgemeine & Typologische Sprachwissenschaft     
> Dept. II / F 13                                                                                                     
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