Wiktionary:Landsbybrønden/Ergatives

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Ergatives[redigér]

In both German and Dutch there are verbs that are strictly intransitive and take zijn, sein (to be) resp. in the perfect tenses. At nl. we have started to categorize them separately from the ones that take to have (and from transitief, reflexive, impersonal etc. ones).

They are usually verbs that 'happen' rather than that they 'are done' by someone, e.g. to melt:

Het ijs smelt
Het ijs is gesmolten.

Does Danish have this phenomenon too? Jcwf 31. aug 2009, 03:48 (UTC)

Danish verbs can take either "være", "have" or both. I've never seen this distinction formalized as such. We have a few words like sidde/sætte and ligge/lægge which are intransitive resp. transitive (and causative), and they are sometimes referred to as ergative. See "springe og sprænge" (in Danish).--Leo Laursen (snak · bidrag) 31. aug 2009, 09:35 (UTC)
Thanks Leo, I had not seen it for Dutch either, but this guy wrote a thesis about such things and it works for Dutch like a charm: it really explains why sometimes you have to be and other times to have for intransitives. Dutch also has ergative liggen (gelegen zijn pf.) versus causative leggen, zitten/zetten and a few others. Apparently these are quite old, so that I suspect the whole thing in common Germanic in origin. Unfortunately my Nordic is nonexistent.

In Dutch you have

ergatives
  1. no accusative (direct object)
  2. no passive voice at all
  3. take zijn in perfect
  4. there is no real actor (guilty person)
  5. expresses a process or movement
inergatives
  1. no accusative: de hond blaft - the dog barks
  2. do have an impersonal passive: er wordt geblaft (with a dummy er subject)
  3. do have an actor (that !#@# dog)
  4. take hebben in perfect
  5. express all sorts of actions
transitives
  1. do have accusative
  2. have complete set of passive voice using worden
  3. have both actor (subject) and victim (direct object)
  4. take hebben in active pf. but zijn in perfect

We use either laten (let) or doen to make a transitive out of an ergative, e.g.

de zon doet de boter smelten - the sun makes the butter melt

Although in this case smelten can also be used as a transitive

De zon smelt de boter

The movement verbs and also liggen often can go either way, e.g. lopen (to walk)

ergative: Hij is naar huis gelopen (with direction: movement as a process)
inergative: Hij heeft te veel gelopen (no direction, but actor: he 'chose' to walk too much)

Jcwf 31. aug 2009, 14:21 (UTC) Jcwf 31. aug 2009, 14:21 (UTC)