Re: Voice, Transitivity, and Ergativity

Date: Wed May 08 1996 - 18:28:39 EDT

Carl, I am definitely interested in the challenges of defining voice, etc.,
but with all the discussion that has gone on thus far, it would help me if
you focused in on the issues/problems that most concern you at this point.
For example, the misnomer "deponent" is an old problem that I thought every-
one understood fairly well as such (something like American "Indian"). I
don't know if terminology wars are worth fighting. One that I got tired of
hearing about was the battle to replace "tense" with "aspect" or something
similar. I have as much trouble with "tense" as anyone, but at least it
seems to serve us reasonably well as a code word, and it would be just as
bad to refer,e.g., to a "present aspect". Also, the ergative case idea is
interesting but also a little confusing. It would make sense if the case
referred both to d.o.'s and subjects of *passive* verbs, so is there some
implication that intranstive verbs are somehow more closely connected to
the passive idea? That seems mistaken. Anyway, there are a few of my

Don Wilkins
UC Riverside

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