LINGUIST List 6.1786

Sat Dec 23 1995

Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Editor for this issue: Anthony M. Aristar <aristartam2000.tamu.edu>


Directory

  1. Scott DeLancey, Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
  2. Peter Daniels, Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
  3. Sebastian Shaumyan, Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Message 1: Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 16:45:32 Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
From: Scott DeLancey <delanceydarkwing.uoregon.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

>From delanceydarkwing.uoregon.eduThu Dec 21 16:43:08 1995
To: Scott C DeLancey <delanceydarkwing.uoregon.edu>


 amrCS.Wayne.EDU (Alexis Manaster Ramer) writes:

> (1) It has always seemed to me that the unaccusative hypothesis is
> dealing with the same phenomena as Georgij A. Klimov's theory of what
> he calls an 'active typology' or 'active construction' (I don't
> think there is a good way of rendering Russian 'aktivnyj stroj'
> in our impoverished insular tongue (:-), but neither side seems
> to ever admit that the other exists--or am I missing something?

Depends what you mean by "side", and what you want them to admit.
The Relational Grammarians, who first formulated the hypothesis,
certainly adduced active/stative typology as a manifestation
of it, and the connection is recognized by most contemporary
writers on either topic, across the spectrum of linguistic
ideology, e.g. recently Van Valin (Lg. 66.2), Mithun (Lg. 67.3),
and Levin and Rappaport-Hovav themselves.
 Not surprisingly, not all Anglophone authors cite Klimov
- so if that's the acknowledgement you're looking for, it's
widely missing. Mithun does cite Kl., but I don't know offhand
if anyone on the "Unaccusative" side does. In fact, though, Sapir,
not Klimov (or possibly C.C. Uhlenbeck?) gets credit for first
recognizing the active/stative typological pattern. Of course,
Sapir isn't generally cited in the "Unaccusative" literature either.
(Again Mithun, of course, does cite him).

Scott DeLancey			delanceydarkwing.uoregon.edu
Department of Linguistics
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403, USA
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Message 2: Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 22:04:07 Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
From: Peter Daniels <pdanielspress-gopher.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

A further difficulty with the "term" *unergative* is that in contemporary
theory *ergative* is used in ways that seem to have nothing to do with the
original sense of the term (for which see Dixon's book by that name).
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Message 3: Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Date: Fri, 22 Dec 1995 00:22:59 Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
From: Sebastian Shaumyan <shaumyanminerva.cis.yale.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.1763, Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

 On Thu, 21 Dec 1995, The Linguist List wrote:

> 1)
> Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 07:59:36 EST
> From: amrCS.Wayne.EDU (Alexis Manaster Ramer)
> Subject: Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
>
> Two quick comments/questions:
>
> (1) It has always seemed to me that the unaccusative hypothesis is
> dealing with the same phenomena as Georgij A. Klimov's theory of what
> he calls an 'active typology' or 'active construction' (I don't
> think there is a good way of rendering Russian 'aktivnyj stroj'
> in our impoverished insular tongue (:-), but neither side seems
> to ever admit that the other exists--or am I missing something?

The Unaccusatuve Hypothesis and Georgij A. Klimov's theory deal with
related but different topics. The proper translation of the Russian term
'aktivnyj stroj' is the 'active system'. There are three basic types of
 syntactic
systems: 1) nominative system, 2) ergative system, 3) active system.

In the nominative system, subject is expressed by the nominative case and
direct object is expressed by the accusative case. In the ergative system,
sybject is expressed by the ergative case and direct object is expressed
by the absolutive case. In the active system, there is no formal distinction
between subject and direct object. Instead we have a formal device for a
disinction between two functions of subject: the active case denotes "active
subject" (an agent) and the non-active case denotes "non-active subject"
(a non-agent). Most languages of the world do not have formal devices for
the distiction of an active and non-active subject as languages having the
opposition ACTIVE CASE--NON-ACTIVE CASE. Nevertheless, as a counterpart of
this formal distinction they have different behavior of their intransitive
constructions. If, semantically, subject corresponds to the active case,
then the predicate can be passivized. If it corresonds to the non-active
case, then the predicate cannot be passivezed. I call this phenomenon
split intransitivty: the syntactic behavior of intransitive predicates is
split depending on their meaning--whether they mean an active action or a
state. Of course, syntactic behavior of predicates not always reflects their
meaning. Hence, a lot of mismatches between the syntactic behavior of
predicates and their meaning. The Unaccusative Hypothesis was advanced to
explain the split syntactic behavior of intransitive predicates.

Klimov's theory is concerned with the problem of the genetic typological
relationship between the above three syntactic systems of the case
assignment.

According to his theory, the nominative system of the case assignment
descended from the ergative system, which in its turn had descended from
the active system.

> (2) Prof. Shaumyan refers to 'deep structure' as an 'obsolte
> concept'. If he is right, I would of course be delighted, but is
> it really obsolete? (And if not, how can we help along to its
> deserved demise?).

The term "deep structure" has two meanings: 1) the methodological concept
of the philosophy of science; 2) the technical term of a certain brand of
generative grammar.

In my review, I referred to "deep structure" only in the second sense of the
word. As to the methodological sense of the word, every serious theory in
every branch of science, be it physics, biology, or linguistics, is and
has to be concerned with deep structure. From the methodological point
of view, deep structure means internal relations, internal structure of
the object which are not observed directly and must be described by
advancing proper hypotheses. And this is any serious theory is all about.

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 2)
> Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 08:12:26 +0500
> From: sowawest.poly.edu (John F. Sowa)
> Subject: Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
>
> I realize that there are strong reasons for keeping terms that have become
> widely used in the linguistic community, but I work on the borderline of
> computational linguistics, AI, and philosophy. The phenomenon has important
> implications that go beyond linguistics, and I despair of trying to explain
> it to people who are immediately repelled by the terminology.
>
> Aristotle made the point that you should not try to characterize a species
> by negative differentiae because that suggests that there are no positive
> features that distinguish it from the genus. The literature shows that
> there are many positive features that distinguish unergativity and
> unaccusativity, and I wish somebody would suggest some less repulsive
> positive terms.
>

I must confess I cannot understand why RG uses such weird terms. I look
at these terms simply as lables of certain concepts. Taken simply as lables,
these terms are clear.












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