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Passive and Antipassive

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  • Brian A. Woodward
    Are the passive and antipassive voices the same thing just labeled differently for nominative and ergative languages (respectively)? Or are there actual
    Message 1 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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      Are the passive and antipassive voices the same thing just labeled differently for nominative and ergative languages (respectively)? Or are there actual differences? I can't find a straight answer online.

      Brian
    • Wm Annis
      The antipassive is quite different. The passive defocuses the subject/agent of the verb. The antipassive defocuses the object (or patient, if you prefer) of
      Message 2 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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        The antipassive is quite different. The passive defocuses the
        subject/agent of the verb. The antipassive defocuses the object
        (or patient, if you prefer) of the verb. It's the difference between
        "I hunt a deer," and "I hunt" (in general). It's usually more obvious
        in languages that are fastidious about transitivity. Nez Perce is
        an interesting case:

        http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~ardeal/Deal-sula4.pdf
        http://people.umass.edu/partee/Gen_Neg/_docs/Deal-NzPfieldwork.pdf

        Just as some languages with passives forbid them when there
        is a known agent (i.e., you can say, "I was hit" but not "I was hit
        by the man"), some languages forbid any object at all in their
        antipassive, while others allow an oblique object, which usually
        has a partitive sense, "I hunted *some* deer," or the like.

        It is sometimes said that the antipassive is mostly an ergative
        thing, but the number of Nom-Acc languages with it seems to
        argue against that (http://wals.info/chapter/108 section 3).

        --
        wm
      • Philip Newton
        ... Similarly, the passive is mostly an accusative thing, but (for example) TTBOMK Inuktitut and Greenlandic, which are ergative, have a passive (as well as
        Message 3 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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          On Sun, Oct 9, 2011 at 20:48, Wm Annis <wm.annis@...> wrote:
          > It is sometimes said that the antipassive is mostly an ergative
          > thing, but the number of Nom-Acc languages with it seems to
          > argue against that (http://wals.info/chapter/108 section 3).

          Similarly, the passive is mostly an accusative thing, but (for
          example) TTBOMK Inuktitut and Greenlandic, which are ergative, have a
          passive (as well as the "normal" active and antipassive).

          Cheers,
          Philip
          --
          Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
        • Philip Newton
          ... That s traditionally the case in Inuktitut/Greenlandic - I ve usually seen it called indefinite (e.g. I hunted a deer , vs. the active-transitive which
          Message 4 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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            On Sun, Oct 9, 2011 at 20:48, Wm Annis <wm.annis@...> wrote:
            > some languages forbid any object at all in their
            > antipassive, while others allow an oblique object, which usually
            > has a partitive sense, "I hunted *some* deer," or the like.

            That's traditionally the case in Inuktitut/Greenlandic - I've usually
            seen it called "indefinite" (e.g. "I hunted a deer", vs. the
            active-transitive which would be called "definite" and translated "I
            hunted the deer").

            Interestingly, perhaps, while this distinction appears to hold in
            Inuktitut, I have the impression that the semantic distinction is
            getting less in Greenlandic, especially among younger speakers, and
            that the antipassive + oblique object construction is treated as
            nearly equivalent.

            In other words, Greenlandic may be moving from an ergative alignment
            to an accusative one, with subjects always being in the unmarked case
            (traditionally called "absolutive", in the future perhaps better
            "nominative"), not just in intransitive sentences, while the case
            taken by now-antipassive objects would then be "accusative". And
            indeed I've occasionally heard that case called that in some
            descriptions of the language. (In other places, a common name for it
            is "instrumental".) The current ergative case would then, presumably,
            turn into merely a genitive (which is another function it currently
            has, leading at least one description to call it the "relative" case,
            since neither "ergative" nor "genitive" seemed to fit precisely).

            All this possible under the influence of Danish, which is accusative.

            (Interestingly, perhaps, even though Inuktitut/Greenlandic has a case
            called "instrumental", that's not the case used to mark the oblique
            agent of a passive sentence. [Even though it's the case used to mark
            the oblique agent of an antipassive one!] Instead, at least in
            Inuktitut, the oblique agent of a passive sentence gets marked either
            by the ablative [which seems reasonable enough to me - "Caesar was
            killed from Brutus", sounds like neo-Romance to me] or the allative
            [which seems a bit odder to me - "Caesar was killed to Brutus"?]. I'm
            not sure what governs the choice of case - region/dialect, age,
            speaker preference... - but the descriptions I've read say it's always
            one of those two.)

            Cheers,
            Philip
            --
            Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
          • Brian
            These are all good examples that have already shown me things that I didn t know before but I m still unclear as to the difference in meaning between passive
            Message 5 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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              These are all good examples that have already shown me things that I didn't know before but I'm still unclear as to the difference in meaning between passive and antipassive. What does the antipassive voice communicate that the active and passive voices do not? Or am I just missing something?
              -----Original Message-----
              From: Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
              Sender: Constructed Languages List <CONLANG@...>
              Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 22:09:38
              To: <CONLANG@...>
              Reply-To: Constructed Languages List <CONLANG@...>
              Subject: Re: Passive and Antipassive

              On Sun, Oct 9, 2011 at 20:48, Wm Annis <wm.annis@...> wrote:
              > some languages forbid any object at all in their
              > antipassive, while others allow an oblique object, which usually
              > has a partitive sense, "I hunted *some* deer," or the like.

              That's traditionally the case in Inuktitut/Greenlandic - I've usually
              seen it called "indefinite" (e.g. "I hunted a deer", vs. the
              active-transitive which would be called "definite" and translated "I
              hunted the deer").

              Interestingly, perhaps, while this distinction appears to hold in
              Inuktitut, I have the impression that the semantic distinction is
              getting less in Greenlandic, especially among younger speakers, and
              that the antipassive + oblique object construction is treated as
              nearly equivalent.

              In other words, Greenlandic may be moving from an ergative alignment
              to an accusative one, with subjects always being in the unmarked case
              (traditionally called "absolutive", in the future perhaps better
              "nominative"), not just in intransitive sentences, while the case
              taken by now-antipassive objects would then be "accusative". And
              indeed I've occasionally heard that case called that in some
              descriptions of the language. (In other places, a common name for it
              is "instrumental".) The current ergative case would then, presumably,
              turn into merely a genitive (which is another function it currently
              has, leading at least one description to call it the "relative" case,
              since neither "ergative" nor "genitive" seemed to fit precisely).

              All this possible under the influence of Danish, which is accusative.

              (Interestingly, perhaps, even though Inuktitut/Greenlandic has a case
              called "instrumental", that's not the case used to mark the oblique
              agent of a passive sentence. [Even though it's the case used to mark
              the oblique agent of an antipassive one!] Instead, at least in
              Inuktitut, the oblique agent of a passive sentence gets marked either
              by the ablative [which seems reasonable enough to me - "Caesar was
              killed from Brutus", sounds like neo-Romance to me] or the allative
              [which seems a bit odder to me - "Caesar was killed to Brutus"?]. I'm
              not sure what governs the choice of case - region/dialect, age,
              speaker preference... - but the descriptions I've read say it's always
              one of those two.)

              Cheers,
              Philip
              --
              Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
            • Logan Kearsley
              ... Passive and antipassive remove different arguments- passive eliminates the original subject, antipassive eliminates the original object. Active: I hunt
              Message 6 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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                On 9 October 2011 14:33, Brian <altrius13@...> wrote:
                > These are all good examples that have already shown me things that I didn't know before but I'm still unclear as to the difference in meaning between passive and antipassive. What does the antipassive voice communicate that the active and passive voices do not? Or am I just missing something?

                Passive and antipassive remove different arguments- passive eliminates
                the original subject, antipassive eliminates the original object.

                Active: I hunt deer.
                Passive: Deer are hunted. (subject "I" deleted)
                Antipassive: I hunt. (object "deer" deleted) (In an ergative language,
                "I" would change case in this example, which makes the antipassive
                more notable in ergative languages.)

                In English, we don't really care about marking transitivity very much,
                so we don't use an explicit antipassive construction. If your language
                cares about transitivity, though, whether or not it's ergative, then
                it will require a special construction of some sort to allow the
                removal an object, and that's called antipassive.

                -l.
              • Ph. D.
                ... Interesting that this has come up. I m not familiar with the antipassive, but I was recently working on the clause structures of my conlang Utega: Each
                Message 7 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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                  Brian wrote:
                  > These are all good examples that have already shown me things that I didn't know before but I'm still unclear as to the difference in meaning between passive and antipassive. What does the antipassive voice communicate that the active and passive voices do not? Or am I just missing something?

                  Interesting that this has come up. I'm not familiar with
                  the antipassive, but I was recently working on the clause
                  structures of my conlang Utega:

                  Each clause begins with a voice marker:

                  Active: Se
                  Passive: Go
                  Instrumental: Pan
                  Oblique: Peru

                  Every verb is transitive or intransitive.

                  Clause structure:

                  <voice marker> <verb(s)> <adverbs> <dir object> <obliques> <subject>

                  Intransitive verbs take the passive voice marker:

                  Go sjunasa ta li dregu mo.
                  PV sleep-PST at the bed 1s.
                  I slept in the bed.

                  Go brapa li risja.
                  PV cook the rice.
                  The rice is cooking.

                  Transitive verbs take any of the voices as needed.
                  A transitive verb must have an expressed object
                  when using the active voice.

                  Go brapamu li risja.
                  PV cook-1S the rice.
                  The rice is cooked by me.

                  Se brapa li risja mo.
                  AV cook the rice 1S.
                  I am cooking the rice.

                  *Se brapa mo.
                  I am cooking.

                  Go brapa mo.
                  PV cook 1S
                  I am being cooked.

                  This must be expressed with the verb doni "do" and the
                  verbal noun:

                  Se doni li brapa mo.
                  AV do the cooking 1S.
                  I am doing the cooking.
                  i.e. I am cooking.

                  --Ph. D.
                • Brian
                  Wow, okay, I really was missing it. Every bit of that was said before but I just wasn t piecing it together correctly. Thank you for dumbing it down for me.
                  Message 8 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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                    Wow, okay, I really was missing it. Every bit of that was said before but I just wasn't piecing it together correctly. Thank you for dumbing it down for me. (And I don't mean that sarcastically either.)
                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>
                    Sender: Constructed Languages List <CONLANG@...>
                    Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 14:57:30
                    To: <CONLANG@...>
                    Reply-To: Constructed Languages List <CONLANG@...>
                    Subject: Re: Passive and Antipassive

                    On 9 October 2011 14:33, Brian <altrius13@...> wrote:
                    > These are all good examples that have already shown me things that I didn't know before but I'm still unclear as to the difference in meaning between passive and antipassive. What does the antipassive voice communicate that the active and passive voices do not? Or am I just missing something?

                    Passive and antipassive remove different arguments- passive eliminates
                    the original subject, antipassive eliminates the original object.

                    Active: I hunt deer.
                    Passive: Deer are hunted. (subject "I" deleted)
                    Antipassive: I hunt. (object "deer" deleted) (In an ergative language,
                    "I" would change case in this example, which makes the antipassive
                    more notable in ergative languages.)

                    In English, we don't really care about marking transitivity very much,
                    so we don't use an explicit antipassive construction. If your language
                    cares about transitivity, though, whether or not it's ergative, then
                    it will require a special construction of some sort to allow the
                    removal an object, and that's called antipassive.

                    -l.
                  • MorphemeAddict
                    The passive demotes the subject, whether it s an agent or a patient. The antipassive demotes the object, whether it s a patient or focus. In Katanda, Rick
                    Message 9 of 17 , Oct 9, 2011
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                      The passive demotes the subject, whether it's an agent or a patient. The
                      antipassive demotes the object, whether it's a patient or focus. In Katanda,
                      Rick Morneau even had an anti-anti-passive and anti-anti-middle, which
                      demoted the 2nd object, but he abandoned them in Latejami.

                      stevo

                      On Sun, Oct 9, 2011 at 2:48 PM, Wm Annis <wm.annis@...> wrote:

                      > The antipassive is quite different. The passive defocuses the
                      > subject/agent of the verb. The antipassive defocuses the object
                      > (or patient, if you prefer) of the verb. It's the difference between
                      > "I hunt a deer," and "I hunt" (in general). It's usually more obvious
                      > in languages that are fastidious about transitivity. Nez Perce is
                      > an interesting case:
                      >
                      > http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~ardeal/Deal-sula4.pdf
                      > http://people.umass.edu/partee/Gen_Neg/_docs/Deal-NzPfieldwork.pdf
                      >
                      > Just as some languages with passives forbid them when there
                      > is a known agent (i.e., you can say, "I was hit" but not "I was hit
                      > by the man"), some languages forbid any object at all in their
                      > antipassive, while others allow an oblique object, which usually
                      > has a partitive sense, "I hunted *some* deer," or the like.
                      >
                      > It is sometimes said that the antipassive is mostly an ergative
                      > thing, but the number of Nom-Acc languages with it seems to
                      > argue against that (http://wals.info/chapter/108 section 3).
                      >
                      > --
                      > wm
                      >
                    • David Peterson
                      Just going to add a link to my intro to ergativity: http://dedalvs.com/notes/ergativity.php There s a section on antipassives. David Peterson LCS President
                      Message 10 of 17 , Oct 10, 2011
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                        Just going to add a link to my intro to ergativity:

                        http://dedalvs.com/notes/ergativity.php

                        There's a section on antipassives.

                        David Peterson
                        LCS President
                        president@...
                        www.conlang.org

                        On Oct 9, 2011, at 2◊47 PM, MorphemeAddict wrote:

                        > The passive demotes the subject, whether it's an agent or a patient. The
                        > antipassive demotes the object, whether it's a patient or focus. In Katanda,
                        > Rick Morneau even had an anti-anti-passive and anti-anti-middle, which
                        > demoted the 2nd object, but he abandoned them in Latejami.
                        >
                        > stevo
                        >
                        > On Sun, Oct 9, 2011 at 2:48 PM, Wm Annis <wm.annis@...> wrote:
                        >
                        >> The antipassive is quite different. The passive defocuses the
                        >> subject/agent of the verb. The antipassive defocuses the object
                        >> (or patient, if you prefer) of the verb. It's the difference between
                        >> "I hunt a deer," and "I hunt" (in general). It's usually more obvious
                        >> in languages that are fastidious about transitivity. Nez Perce is
                        >> an interesting case:
                        >>
                        >> http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~ardeal/Deal-sula4.pdf
                        >> http://people.umass.edu/partee/Gen_Neg/_docs/Deal-NzPfieldwork.pdf
                        >>
                        >> Just as some languages with passives forbid them when there
                        >> is a known agent (i.e., you can say, "I was hit" but not "I was hit
                        >> by the man"), some languages forbid any object at all in their
                        >> antipassive, while others allow an oblique object, which usually
                        >> has a partitive sense, "I hunted *some* deer," or the like.
                        >>
                        >> It is sometimes said that the antipassive is mostly an ergative
                        >> thing, but the number of Nom-Acc languages with it seems to
                        >> argue against that (http://wals.info/chapter/108 section 3).
                        >>
                        >> --
                        >> wm
                        >>
                      • David McCann
                        On Mon, 10 Oct 2011 00:11:58 -0700 ... Very nice! And here s a suggestion of things you can do with an antipassive: 1. Object deletion. I hunt AP
                        Message 11 of 17 , Oct 10, 2011
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                          On Mon, 10 Oct 2011 00:11:58 -0700
                          David Peterson <dedalvs@...> wrote:

                          > Just going to add a link to my intro to ergativity:
                          > There's a section on antipassives.

                          Very nice! And here's a suggestion of things you can do with an
                          antipassive:

                          1. Object deletion. "I hunt" AP < "I hunt deer"
                          2. Indefinite object. "I was hunting a deer" AP < "I was hunting the
                          deer"
                          3. Habit or occupation. "I hunt deer" AP meaning "I'm a deer hunter"
                          4. Unaffected patients. "I like coffee"
                          5. Inanimate agents. "The stone broke the window"
                          6. Inadvertent actions. "I broke the window" (accidentally)
                          7. To enable the agent to be put in the absolutive case so that it can
                          be subjected to a process (like relativisation) that can only be
                          applied to absolutives in the language in question.
                        • Brian
                          Wow, that helps tremendously! Numbers 1, 2, and 3 were causing problems for me in my conlang. I was having trouble determining how to express those
                          Message 12 of 17 , Oct 10, 2011
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                            Wow, that helps tremendously! Numbers 1, 2, and 3 were causing problems for me in my conlang. I was having trouble determining how to express those constructions without using a billion words that I didn't want. Thank you!
                            -----Original Message-----
                            From: David McCann <david@...>
                            Sender: Constructed Languages List <CONLANG@...>
                            Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 17:36:22
                            To: <CONLANG@...>
                            Reply-To: Constructed Languages List <CONLANG@...>
                            Subject: Re: Passive and Antipassive

                            On Mon, 10 Oct 2011 00:11:58 -0700
                            David Peterson <dedalvs@...> wrote:

                            > Just going to add a link to my intro to ergativity:
                            > There's a section on antipassives.

                            Very nice! And here's a suggestion of things you can do with an
                            antipassive:

                            1. Object deletion. "I hunt" AP < "I hunt deer"
                            2. Indefinite object. "I was hunting a deer" AP < "I was hunting the
                            deer"
                            3. Habit or occupation. "I hunt deer" AP meaning "I'm a deer hunter"
                            4. Unaffected patients. "I like coffee"
                            5. Inanimate agents. "The stone broke the window"
                            6. Inadvertent actions. "I broke the window" (accidentally)
                            7. To enable the agent to be put in the absolutive case so that it can
                            be subjected to a process (like relativisation) that can only be
                            applied to absolutives in the language in question.
                          • Dana Nutter
                            In Sasxsek I put in the -a suffix which effectively reverses the roles of the arguments making the subject and object, and vice versa. It effectively
                            Message 13 of 17 , Oct 10, 2011
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                              In Sasxsek I put in the "-a" suffix which effectively reverses the roles
                              of the arguments making the subject and object, and vice versa. It
                              effectively creates the equivalent of the passive voice, but also has
                              the added benefit of helping to reduce the number of roots required in
                              the language.

                              mo les I read / I am reading
                              mo les kitab I am reading the book
                              kitab lesa The book is being read
                              kitab lesa mo The book is being read by me

                              ------------------------------

                              Dana Nutter
                              dana.nutter@...
                            • René Uittenbogaard
                              Isn t this usually called inverse voice ? At least that s what I called it in Calénnawn: O šos peybúco s-advégo. ART.NOM child listen ART.ACC-president.
                              Message 14 of 17 , Oct 11, 2011
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                                Isn't this usually called "inverse voice"? At least that's what I
                                called it in Calénnawn:

                                O šos peybúco s-advégo.
                                ART.NOM child listen ART.ACC-president.
                                The child is listening to the president.

                                On advégo nopeybúco so šos.
                                ART.NOM president INV-listen ART.ACC child.
                                The president is listened to by the child.

                                René


                                2011/10/10 Dana Nutter <deinx.nxtxr@...>:
                                > In Sasxsek I put in the "-a" suffix which effectively reverses the roles of
                                > the arguments making the subject and object, and vice versa.  It effectively
                                > creates the equivalent of the passive voice, but also has the added benefit
                                > of helping to reduce the number of roots required in the language.
                                >
                                >    mo les                I read / I am reading
                                >    mo les kitab        I am reading the book
                                >    kitab lesa            The book is being read
                                >    kitab lesa mo        The book is being read by me
                                >
                                > ------------------------------
                                >
                                > Dana Nutter
                                > ✉ dana.nutter@...
                                >
                              • David McCann
                                On Tue, 11 Oct 2011 09:16:08 +0200 ... That s a passive! The inverse is a way of indicating agent and patient, instead of using nominative/accusative,
                                Message 15 of 17 , Oct 11, 2011
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                                  On Tue, 11 Oct 2011 09:16:08 +0200
                                  René Uittenbogaard <ruittenb@...> wrote:

                                  > Isn't this usually called "inverse voice"? At least that's what I
                                  > called it in Calénnawn:
                                  >
                                  > On advégo nopeybúco so šos.
                                  > ART.NOM president INV-listen ART.ACC child.
                                  > The president is listened to by the child.

                                  That's a passive!

                                  The inverse is a way of indicating agent and patient,
                                  instead of using nominative/accusative, ergative/absolutive, or
                                  agentive marking. The verb is marked as inverse if the agent is lower
                                  in the empathy scale than the patient:
                                  "The king looked at the cat" but "The cat looked.INV at the king".
                                • René Uittenbogaard
                                  ... Ok I get that example; but the passivization/inversion/whatever that is taking place in Calénnawn does not decrease the valency of the verb. Can it then
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Oct 11, 2011
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                                    2011/10/11 David McCann <david@...>:
                                    > On Tue, 11 Oct 2011 09:16:08 +0200
                                    > René Uittenbogaard <ruittenb@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    >> Isn't this usually called "inverse voice"? At least that's what I
                                    >> called it in Calénnawn:
                                    >>
                                    >> On advégo nopeybúco so šos.
                                    >> ART.NOM president INV-listen ART.ACC child.
                                    >> The president is listened to by the child.
                                    >
                                    > That's a passive!
                                    >
                                    > The inverse is a way of indicating agent and patient,
                                    > instead of using nominative/accusative, ergative/absolutive, or
                                    > agentive marking. The verb is marked as inverse if the agent is lower
                                    > in the empathy scale than the patient:
                                    > "The king looked at the cat" but "The cat looked.INV at the king".

                                    Ok I get that example; but the passivization/inversion/whatever that
                                    is taking place in Calénnawn does not decrease the valency of the
                                    verb. Can it then still be called a passive?

                                    René
                                  • MorphemeAddict
                                    ... I ve always heard of passive/middle/inverse voices as ways of modifying the emphasis, not the empathy. stevo
                                    Message 17 of 17 , Oct 12, 2011
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                                      On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 11:48 AM, David McCann <david@...>wrote:

                                      > On Tue, 11 Oct 2011 09:16:08 +0200
                                      > René Uittenbogaard <ruittenb@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > > Isn't this usually called "inverse voice"? At least that's what I
                                      > > called it in Calénnawn:
                                      > >
                                      > > On advégo nopeybúco so šos.
                                      > > ART.NOM president INV-listen ART.ACC child.
                                      > > The president is listened to by the child.
                                      >
                                      > That's a passive!
                                      >
                                      > The inverse is a way of indicating agent and patient,
                                      > instead of using nominative/accusative, ergative/absolutive, or
                                      > agentive marking. The verb is marked as inverse if the agent is lower
                                      > in the empathy scale than the patient:
                                      > "The king looked at the cat" but "The cat looked.INV at the king".
                                      >

                                      I've always heard of passive/middle/inverse voices as ways of modifying the
                                      emphasis, not the empathy.

                                      stevo
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