LINGUIST List 13.1616

Thu Jun 6 2002

Qs: Unaccusative Passives, Consonant Harmony/Adults

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  1. Anja Wanner, Unaccusative Passives
  2. Dan Everett, Consonant Harmony in Adult Speech

Message 1: Unaccusative Passives

Date: Thu, 06 Jun 2002 17:54:31 +0000
From: Anja Wanner <>
Subject: Unaccusative Passives

Dear linguists -

Unaccusative verbs such as happen, disappear etc. cannot normally be
passivized, since they do not have an external argument (Perlmutter
1978 etc.). However, there are sentences like [Thirty thousand people
- a whole generation - were disappeared in seven years of military
rule] in English or [Er ging nicht, er WURDE gegangen] (He didn't go,
he WAS gone - meaning: He didn't quit his job, he was fired) in
German, which are used to imply the existence of a causer. I would
like to find out if this kind of (marked) "implicit agent unaccusative
passive" also exists in other languages. 
Thanks for your help! 

Anja Wanner
Assistant Professor, Dept. of English
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Helen C. White Hall
600 North Park Street
Madison, WI 53706
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Message 2: Consonant Harmony in Adult Speech

Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2002 15:55:36 -0300
From: Dan Everett <>
Subject: Consonant Harmony in Adult Speech


Does anyone know of clear cases of Consonant Harmony occurring in
adult speech?

Some researchers have observed CH in L1 acquisition data, but others
have claimed that it cannot appear in adult speech. I reported on an
apparent case in: 1985 'Syllable Weight, Sloppy Phonemes, and Channels
in Pirah´┐Ż Discourse,' In: Mary Niepokuj (eds.) Proceedings of
the Berkeley Linguistics Society 11, pp 408-416.

In child language acquisition cases might look like: [mom] for German
/Baum/ or [guk] for /buk/ 'book', etc. In Piraha it looks like ?apapai
'head' ~ ?a?a?ai 'head' (?=glottal); Kohoi 'name' ~ Kokoi, etc.

I will post a summary (if there are any responses!).


Dan Everett
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