Actancy by Gilbert Lazard

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By Gilbert Lazard

The sequence is a platform for contributions of all types to this quickly constructing box. common difficulties are studied from the point of view of person languages, language households, language teams, or language samples. Conclusions are the results of a deepened examine of empirical info. certain emphasis is given to little-known languages, whose research might shed new mild on long-standing difficulties mostly linguistics.

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If, indeed, its application is obvious in the case of verbs denoting an action issuing from an agent and affecting a patient, in all languages there are many utterances which express events different from actions of this kind and which continue to involve two actants. Could it be said that in a French sentence such as (30) (from Mounin 1980: 157) the subject is in any way an agent? ) are in no way agents. Nevertheless, all of these verbs, which Actancy structures and semantic relations 37 do not denote actions, are constructed in English and various (though not all) languages in the same fashion as verbs of action such as "kill" or "do".

Other languages, on the contrary, may have few Zs treated like X and many treated like Y, and are intermediate between "pure" Actancy structures and semantic relations 45 dual and ergative languages. We are thus led to conceive of a continuum going from accusative to ergative languages, with a number of positions in between (see Dixon 1994: 75, and Lazard 1997: 251-252). 3. Other constructions It is, thus, the construction of action sentences which determines the dominant actancy structure in a language.

The pair of Burmese sentences (14-15) could be said to constitute a "neutral" structure. The neutral structure is relatively rare, since it is obviously a serious source of ambiguity. It can only operate in cases such as this, where the semantic content of the terms present clearly indicates how the sentence is to be understood. In the opposite case the word order is significant or else relators are used. g. g. (5)). 2. Second case: each of the two actants has part of the grammatical properties of the single actant.

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