LINGUIST List 14.1833

Tue Jul 1 2003

Qs: Words for 'death'; Ditransitive/Passive Verbs

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  1. D. Alan Shewmon, Words for "death"
  2. Mark Donohue, Syntax,: trivalent verbs, passives and agreement

Message 1: Words for "death"

Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 19:22:06 +0000
From: D. Alan Shewmon <>
Subject: Words for "death"

For a medical paper on brain death we are wondering whether there are
languages with

(1) more than one word for the phenomenon we call ''death''
(2) no equivalent for the English word ''death''

Re: (1), we are not thinking of joking, euphemistic or substandard
substitutes for the ''serious'' word for death.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

D. Alan Shewmon, MD
Department of Neurology
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles 
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Message 2: Syntax,: trivalent verbs, passives and agreement

Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 20:21:42 +0000
From: Mark Donohue <>
Subject: Syntax,: trivalent verbs, passives and agreement

I'm checking to see if it's possible, in some symmetrical languages,
to have a trivalent (ditransitive, three-place) verb simultaneously
display passive morphology AND object agreement, for the remaining
object. I have one example from Pancana (Austronesian, SE Sulawesi,

No-ala-angko-e	 		(o sabo)
3R.SUBJ-fetch-2SG.OBJ2-3OBJ1	ART soap
'They fetched it for you.'

O sabo	 no-ti-ala-angko
ART soap	3R.SUBJ-PASS-fetch-2SG.OBJ2
'Soap was fetched for you.'

The catch with Pancana is that the object agreement isn't quite what
you'd expect; if we passivise on the beneficiary, the agreement for
'soap' is the OBJ2 set (usually reserved for beneficiaries and things
that, if nominal, would require an applicative suffix on the verb),
not the (expected) OBJ1 set:

O-ti-ala-ane (o sabo)
2SG.R.SUBJ-PASS-fetch-3SG.OBJ2	ART soap
'You had the soap fetched for you.'

* Otialae (o sabo)

I'm wondering if anyone knows of a language with this sort of
behaviour, though ideally one in which the same object agreement
markers are used in the passive as are used in the active, regardless?
I'm thinking Bantu or Mayan, but that simply reflects what I've read
most of. Any data will be appreciated, quotes from published works
more than others.

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