Elliot Stern emstern at NNI.COM
Sun Jul 5 20:09:21 UTC 1998

Sandra van der Geer wrote:

>Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote
>>1) ta.n.nIr to.t.ti(y)-il niramp-i(y)-atu
>>water - tank-LOC - fill-PAST
>>2) to.t.ti enn-Al ta.n.nIr-Ati ko.n.tu nirappa-pa.t-.t-atu
>>tank me-BY water-WITH fill-PAST-PASS
>>Is 1) considered to be an active construction in Tamil? If so, it
>>doesn't presume another agent, does it? It seems to me that sentence 2)
>>is not the true passive form of 1). It relies on an additional agent,
>>denoted by enn-Al in the passive construction. Another form would be
>>2a) to.t.ti ta.n.nIr-(in)Al nirampiyatu/
>Here you are right. 2 is not meant here as the exact passive copy of 1. In
>fact, your
>sentence (2a) is a better example. In your example 2a, too, the locative
>phrase has been
>moved to subject position.
>>Secondly, if 1) is not an active construction in Tamil, the comparison
>>is somewhat confusing. The equivalent English sentences are -
>>A. Water was filled in the tank.
>>B. The tank was filled with water.
>>A and B are both passive constructions, but the locative phrase in A has
>>been moved/raised to subject position in B. But isn't this supposed to
>>be impossible in IE languages?
>This is not the point, as 1) is an active consturction in Tamil. I wrote
>in a shorter notation here to save time and space on the web, but as you
>see, the contrary became true. I shoud have said PAST-PNG, or PAST with
>person-number-gender agreement. It's an active past tense.

Before Vidyasankar Sundaresan's English example A becomes well established
in this discussion, I would like to question that it is an appropriate
translation for 1) ta.n.nIr to.t.ti(y)-il niramp-i(y)-atu. Rather, I think
the expected English translation for 1> is:

A'. Water filled in the tank.

Further, while I would not go so far as to say that the passive
construction translation in A could not occur, my feeling as a native
Brooklyn, NY, USA speaker of American English is that it is somehow wrong;
I would probably understand A as a mistake for A'.

Elliot M. Stern
552 South 48th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19143-2029

telephone: 215 747 6204

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