Subjects of intransitive verbs

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ciuppo2000
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Joined: 2009-06-12, 15:20

Subjects of intransitive verbs

Postby ciuppo2000 » 2013-02-26, 17:55

As far as I know in ergative languages like Georgian the SUBJECT of a TRANSITIVE verb is in the ERGATIVE case and the OBJECT of a TRANSITIVE verb or the SUBJECT of an INTRANSITIVE verb are in the ABSOLUTIVE case.

But in some languages like for example ITALIAN, INTRANSITIVE verbs can be split into two goups: INACCUSATIVE verbs like for example TO ARRIVE and UNERGATIVE verbs like for example TO SLEEP.

In Georgian are the SUBJECT of a verb like TO ARRIVE and the SUBJECT of a verb like TO SLEEP both in the ABSOLUTIVE case?

Or is the SUBJECT of TO ARRIVE in the ABSOLUTIVE and the SUBJECT of TO SLEEP in the ergative case?

Thank you!!!

HoneyBuzzard
Posts: 476
Joined: 2009-04-18, 11:08

Re: Subjects of intransitive verbs

Postby HoneyBuzzard » 2013-02-26, 22:00

No, they would both be in the absolutive case. There are many intransitive verbs that take subjects in the ergative, but they all belong to a class of mostly denominal verbs that grew out of a transitive class, hence the ergative subjects. In practical terms though, Georgian gets a bit messier since it also has nominative-accusative and inverted patterns, e.g., the verb for sleep actually takes a subject in the dative.

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ciuppo2000
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Re: Subjects of intransitive verbs

Postby ciuppo2000 » 2013-02-27, 12:31

...so, taking into consideration only the ergative aspect of the Georgian language, could it be possible to maintain that the subject of INTRANSITIVE / INACCUSATIVE verbs like:

1) John arrives
2) The glass breaks
3) The ship sinks

are always (or mainly) in the ABSOLUTIVE case and the subject of INTRANSITIVE / UNERGATIVE verbs like:

4) John sleeps
5) John walks
6) John [tele]phones

Are always (or mostly) in the DATIVE or (even) ERGATIVE case?

HoneyBuzzard
Posts: 476
Joined: 2009-04-18, 11:08

Re: Subjects of intransitive verbs

Postby HoneyBuzzard » 2013-02-28, 1:09

I wouldn't put it in those terms, but you could make the claim backwards: intransitive verbs that take ergative subjects are usually unergative.

Unergative verbs don't necessarily belong to that class though ("sleep," "walk," and "telephone" all belong to other classes), and it also contains unaccusative verbs like "boil." Melikishvili's system classifies verbs in this class as "autoactive," so I think the unergative pattern is incidental - this is a subject I haven't studied in depth yet though, so I could be wrong.

EDIT: "telephone" does actually have an ergative subject.


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