LINGUIST List 13.2365

Wed Sep 18 2002

Qs: Aspect Conditioning, Second lang Learning

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  1. Juergen Bohnemeyer, Aspect-Conditioning
  2. Elizabeth Brusco, Second Language Learning

Message 1: Aspect-Conditioning

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 17:34:38 +0200
From: Juergen Bohnemeyer <>
Subject: Aspect-Conditioning

Qs: Aspect-conditioned split-intransitive marking

Systems of argument/case marking that have properties (a)-(c) appear
to be rare among the languages of the world:

(a) The single argument of EVERY intransitive verb may be marked like
either the 'actor' or the 'undergoer' argument of transitive verbs.

(b) The choice between these two options is governed, not by lexical
semantics or clause-level semantic construal, but by overtly marked
categories of 'viewpoint aspect' (i.e., roughly, (im)perfectivity).

(c) The argument/case marking split is restricted to intransitive
verbs/clauses; that is, the marking of the arguments of transitive
clauses is not affected by aspect(-mood) marking.

(Note that while (b) establishes a similarity between the pattern in
question and more familiar cases of aspect-induced split ergativity,
as e.g. in Hindi and Georgian, (c) establishes a similarity between
the pattern at hand and the systems that Dixon (1994) calls 'split-S'
marking (found e.g. in Guarani and Dakota) and 'fluid-S' marking
(found e.g. in some Caucasian languages, such as Bats), and (a)
constitutes a similarity between the pattern at hand and Dixon's
'fluid-S' pattern in particular.)

This pattern of argument/case marking is found in some Mayan languages
(in particular, in languages of the Ch'olan and Yucatecan branches).
What I would like to know is whether anybody is aware of instances of
this pattern outside the Mayan language family. I would also greatly
appreciate any references pertinent to this issue. I will post a
summary provided I receive a sufficient number of responses to warrant

Juergen Bohnemeyer

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Message 2: Second Language Learning

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 21:36:45 +0000
From: Elizabeth Brusco <>
Subject: Second Language Learning

In reference to a debate in my institution concerning a language
requirement, I am looking for any research reports regarding college
students (or other individuals) who are incapable of learning a second

Please respond to

Elizabeth Brusco 
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