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Actancy by Gilbert Lazard

By Gilbert Lazard

The sequence is a platform for contributions of all types to this quickly constructing box. basic difficulties are studied from the viewpoint of person languages, language households, language teams, or language samples. Conclusions are the results of a deepened learn of empirical info. distinctive emphasis is given to little-known languages, whose research may perhaps shed new mild on long-standing difficulties usually linguistics.

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When this has been done, I will tackle the question of the relations between the constructions and the meaning content. Consider, for instance, the Latin two-actant sentence (6) and one-actant sentence (7). (6) Quintu-s Marcu-m PN-NOM PN-ACC 'Quintus slew Marcus' occidi-t slay/PAS-3SG Actancy structures defined (7) 27 Marcu-s decessi-t PN-NOM perish/PAS-3SG 'Marcus died' In (6) one of the actants is in the nominative (zero case), the other in the accusative, and the first governs the agreement (in person/number) of the verb (if we replaced Quintus with a plural noun, the verb would take the form occiderunt): the actancy schema is thus N 0 Pj V n .

Intonation, which is always present. 2. Word order, all the freer to mark the intent the less it is fixed by the grammar of the language. Nevertheless, probably all languages have the possibility of emphasizing a theme by placing it at the beginning of the sentence, a position in which it is somehow outside the syntax and is often cross-referenced in the sentence by means of an anaphoric: this is what is known as "leftdislocation" (French mon frere, tu I'as vu "My brother you saw"). "Rightdislocation", which relegates an element to the end of the sentence, generally outside the syntax, clarifies a thematic element as a piece of complementary information or afterthought (French tu I'as vu, mon frere "You saw my brother").

These languages are thus different from those (like English) where the word order is fixed by the grammar and unmarked in intent, and which therefore require other devices to mark the intent. Chapter 2 Actancy structures 1. Actancy schemata The constructions produced by the range of actancy instruments may, for convenience, be represented in schematic form. If Nj and N 0 stand, respectively, for an actant marked by a relator and one which is not, and V n and V 0 for a verb carrying an index co-referent of Ν and one which does not, the four following combinations represent the possible constructions of the one-actant sentence, irrespective of word order: N0V0 NiV0 N0Vn NjVn In the two-actant sentence, if we symbolize the two actants by Ν and P, distinguishing them only by the fact that they are two different noun phrases, we have the following combinations: N " ο PΓ οVv o N Pr oVv o r V Ν Ρ j νο IN > lP r o o Vv n N rPo Vv n N " o Pr jVv η 1N Pr V ν Μ j η Nr oP vV np vV N P " r o np Ν ' ΜΡr jVν ηρ These formulae, which we shall call "actancy schemata", are highly abstract and independent of both semantic relations and the grammatical notions of subject and object: for instance, N, P 0 V n denotes a construction in which one (any) of the actants is marked, the other unmarked and the verb agrees with the first; N 0 Pj V n denotes a construction comprising also a marked actant and an unmarked actant, but in which the verb agrees with the unmarked actant.

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