Changing Valency: Case Studies in Transitivity by R. M. W. Dixon, Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

By R. M. W. Dixon, Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

This booklet provides a wealth of data on one of the most attention-grabbing languages on the planet, such a lot of them little-known within the linguistics literature. the celebrated group of authors have every one tested ''valency-changing mechanisms'' (phenomena together with passives and causatives) in languages starting from Amazonian Tariana to Alaskan Eskimo, from Australian Ngan'gityemerri to Tsez from the Caucasus. R. M. W. Dixon has additionally contributed a complete bankruptcy on causatives around the languages of the area. the quantity will offer invaluable insights either for formal theoreticians and for linguistic typologists.

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If a language has more than one passive or antipassive these will be distinguished, at least in part, by their meanings. England (1983) reports a number of distinct passives Introduction 17 in the Mayan language Mam – one is used when the underlying A acts purposely; one is used when the A has lost, or does not have, control of the action (done accidentally); one is used when the underlying A ‘went to do it’. In Dyirbal there are two antipassives with different semantics, one referring to an actual and the other to a potential or habitual act (Dixon 1972: 91–2).

This suggests that in a Misumalpan causative construction the two clauses are more tightly integrated than in a normal switch-reference construction. This could be the first stage in a process of grammaticalization, which might lead to a ‘two verbs in one predicate’ construction, and perhaps from that to the development of causative as a verbal affix. W. 4 Lexical causatives We can now consider a kind of causative that involves neither a morphological process nor separate causative verbs – lexical causatives.

One important task is to investigate the varying transitivity profiles of languages. As LaPolla mentions (in note 7 to chapter 8), some languages have transitivity as a more prominent category than others; this may relate, in large part, to the number of ambitransitive verbs in the language. Detailed study is needed – of individual languages, and also cross-linguistically. A fruitful topic for study would be how the semantics of a verb will determine its transitivity and the type(s) of derivational processes that it takes part in (and the extent to which it takes part in them), following up the preliminary remarks in §7 above.

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