LINGUIST List 7.1005

Wed Jul 10 1996

Sum: Transitive/Intransitive verb pairs

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. Hideo Fujii, Summary: trans/intr verb pairs

Message 1: Summary: trans/intr verb pairs

Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 03:17:28 EDT
From: Hideo Fujii <>
Subject: Summary: trans/intr verb pairs
Dear LINGUIST Colleagues,

On 29th of May, I posted the following question (Vol-7-792) :

>> I would like to know which languages have "paired transitive verbs". 
>> I mean that the morphology of some language shows the derivational 
>> variations of transitive and intransitive verbs paird with a shared 
>> "stem" with more or less regularity. For example, in Japanese many 
>> such verb pairs are observed, e.g., "OR-u"(Vt:break) vs. "OR-eru"(Vi:break).
>> In this case, "OR-" is a common stem, and "-u" and "-eru" are transitive 
>> and intransitive endings repectively. There are several endings for this 
>> kind of functionality in Japanese *derivational* morphology. I want to 
>> exclude languages which show the transitive/ intransitive pairs with 
>> inflectional changes, zero morphology (like English for "break" etc.), 
>> nor syntactical constructions (passive/causative- like form). 
>> I appreciate if you tell me the name of languages of this kind. 
>> I will summarise after I receive your information. Thank you very much.

Many people gave me valuable information. I want to express my
gratitude to these contributors. Following is a summary of their
messages. Variety of languages in various regions demonstrate the use
of affixes to produce transitive and intransitive verb pairs - except
Indo-European, especially Germanic languages of using
non-concatenating method. (According to David Weiss, languages like
Czech "use different verbs to reflect aspectual differences.")
Related to Japanese, I didn't hear the situation and examples in
Korean language. I'll appreciate if someone can answer to the
question on Korean verbs.

Thank you very much.


- Hideo Fujii (
 Computer Science Department
 University of Massachusetts
 at Amherst

 <<< Languages with Transitive/Intransitive Verb Pairs >>>

Concatenative Morphology : 
- ----------------------
Japanese (Isolate/Altaic?) 
 -- has Vt and Vi suffixes
 Vt: UTU-su [move] // Vi: UTU-ru [move]
 Vt: OT-osu [cause something to fall] // Vi: OT-iru [fall]
 Vt: TAT-eru [build] // Vi: TAT-u [be built]
 Vt: YABUR-u [break] // Vi: YABUR-eru [break]
 : by Hideo Fujii <>
Korean (Isolate/Altaic?) 
 -- ?????? (has Vt and Vi suffixes??)
Bislama (Solomon Is., English-based Melanesian Pidgin) 
 -- Vi root plus Vt sufix
 Vt: mifala i SINGAOT [we pred.marker call = we yelled]
 Vi: mifala i SINGAOT-em "papa" long man ya 
 [we pred.marker call "father" to man specific = we call that man "father"]
 : by Miriam Meyerhoff <>
 Vt: Mi raet. [I'm writing]
 Vi: Mi raetem leta [I'm writing a letter]
 : by Jeff Siegel <>
Tok-Pisin (Papua New Guinea, English-based Melanesian Pidgin) 
 -- Vi root plus Vt sufix (-im)
 : by Rogier Nieuweboer <>
Kope and other Kiwaian languages (Papua New Guinea) 
 -- Vi root plus Vt prefix
 Vt: om-ODAU [to bring] // Vi: ODAU [to go]
 : by John M Clifton <>
Malagasy (Madagasar, Austronesian)
 : by Charles Randriamasimanana <>
Yidiny & other Australian languages 
 -- use suffixes
 : by Larry Trask <>
Cree & other Algonquian languages
 : by Michael Jonathan Mathew Barrie <umbarri0CC.UManitoba.CA>
Choctaw (Muskogian, Macro-Algonquian) 
 -- has Vt suffix (-li) and Vi suffix (-a)
 Vt: BASH-li [cut something] // Vi: BASH-a [be cut]
 : by Marcia Haag <>
Yaqui (Mexico, Aztec-Tanoan) 
 -- has Vt and Vi suffixes
 : by Eloise Jelinek <>
Finnish (Finno-Ugric, Uralic) 
 -- Vi root plus Vt sufix
 Vt: MUUTTUA-a [to change] // Vi: MUUTTUA [to change]
 : by Kazuto Matsumura <>
Russian (Balto-Slavic, Indo-European) 
 -- Vt root plus Vi sufix
 Vt: KONCHAL(a) [end] // KONCHAL-os [end]
 : by Melisa Ruiz Gutierrez
Greek (Indo-European) 
 -- Few pairs with Vt/Vi endings, but many have different verb forms.
 Vt: KOIM-izo [I put someone to sleep] // Vi: KOIM-amai [I sleep]
 Vt: KATH-izo [I seat someone] // Vi: KATH-omai [I am sitting]
 : by Nikos Sarantakos <>
Basque (Isolate)
 : by Eloise Jelinek <>

Non-Concatenative Morphology : 
- --------------------------
Dutch (Germanic, Indo-European) 
 -- by umlaut/ablaut, but few and archaic
 Vt: vellen [to cause something/-one to fall]
 Vi: vallen [to fall]
 : by Homme A. Piest <>
English (Germanic, Indo-European) 
 -- by umlaut/ablaut, but only a few
 Vt: seat // Vi: sit
 : by Allan Wechsler <>
 Vt: raise // Vi: rise
 Vt: lay // Vi: lie
 : by Markus Hiller <>
German (Germanic, Indo-European) 
 -- by umlaut/ablaut
 Vt: f"allen [cut (e.g. a tree)] // Vi: fallen [fall]
 : by Markus Hiller <>
Swabian (a German dialect) 
 -- by umlaut/ablaut
 Vt: st[e]cken [stick] // Vi: st[E]cken [stick]
 : by Markus Hiller <>
Swedish, Norwegian, Danish (Germanic, Indo-European) 
 : by David Weiss <>
Latin (Italic, Indo-European) 
 -- by umlaut/ablaut
 Vt: caedere [cut (e.g. a tree); kill] // Vi: cadere [fall]
 : by Markus Hiller <>
Hindi (Indo-Iranian) 
 -- by vowel ablaut for causative derivation
 : by Allan Wechsler <>
Hebrew (Afro-Asiatic) 
 -- Vi from Vt by "middle-voice"
 : by Allan Wechsler <>

In addition, Richard Ingham <> send his comment about 
the applicability of derivational processes for this kind.

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