Today, let's discuss voice. Voice is marked through affixes with the exception of the Causative which alters the stem. I have divided voices into "syntactical" and "lexical". Causative and cooperative are characterized as "lexical" because they often cause a semantic shift, and are perceived by Īsmay speakers as separate words. More importantly, though, they are the only two voices which can form their own deverbal nouns.
Note that my example belows are pseudo-glosses meant for illustration and they don't represent well-formed Ismaic sentences.
Most voices are used mainly as a syntactic device, without changing the core meaning of the verb. They are covered under this section.
The active voice is the unmarked voice in both intransitive and transitive verbs, with the expected syntactical structure of the patient coming as the first (and obligatory) argument, and the agent coming after the verb in transitive sentences. The verb agrees with the nominative subject.
Impersonal verbs are also active in form although no argument is specified.
The default, unmarked grammatical voice could as well be called the active-passive
when it comes to transitives, since passivization only requires dropping the ergative argument. This strategy is available without many restrictions.
It is probably a relic of an earlier nominative-accusative grammar, with the agreement marker taking on the role of the subject. I.e., one could argue that Īsmay has no dedicated passive voice and is simply pro-drop in the active voice. The counterargument to this interpretation, however, is that the absolutive argument can never be dropped.
If the agent of a passivized transitive verb is unknown or unspecified, the verbs takes the agreement marker -b-
, corresponding to the paucal markers in third person masculine and first person inclusive, glossed as unknown subject
(US). (The diachronic provenience of this usage is uncertain.)
The syntactical reflexive
can be analyzed as a special case of the passive voice. It is distinguished only by the fact that in the reflexive, the verb agrees with the absolutive subject
, i.e., `I wash<1sm>` means “I wash myself”, whereas `I wash<US>` means “Someone washes me” or “I am being washed.”
A passivized transitive can also cover mediopassive
meanings, such as “the cake cooks.” In these contexts, verb agreement can be either reflexive or with the unknown subject. The former seems to be preferred for animate arguments, and the latter - for inanimate ones.
In the antipassive voice, the ergative argument of a transitive verb is raised to the role of the absolutive subject, and the valency is decreased. The patient can be reintroduced as an oblique argument.
It is to be noted that Īsmay has some deponent verbs which are intransitive verbs semantically but take an obligatory antipassive prefix.
The antipassive can also be used in a reciprocal construction (see below).
Antipassive can also be used with intransitives
to express volition
, effectively turning an unaccusative verb into an unergative one. This is most common with the verbs of motion:
meaning “I tripped on purpose.” It can also indicate intention (“I listened carefully”).
The morphological reflexive described here competes with a syntactical reflexive strategy described earlier under the passive voice. It expresses that the agent and undergoer of an action are the same actor. The dedicated reflexive is a feature of more formal speech, and is gradually falling out of use in favore of the syntactical one.
The circumstantial doesn’t change the valency of the verb. It raises an oblique argument to the role of the absolutive subject. It can be used with both transitives and intransitives. It doesn’t affect the ergative agent, but it demotes the patient which can be expressed as an oblique argument or omitted.
As an additional note: the preposition which would introduce the raised argument in the active voice is often prepended to the verb, especially with verbs of motion or location.
The adjutative voice places an actor helping to do something
in the ergative slot. The original agent is placed in the absolutive, and any direct object is demoted to an oblique role.
= “Mark helps John build.”
= “The potion helps John sleep.” While the adjutative construction is similar to the causative one, it doesn’t have the same lexical effect, and can even be applied to a verb in the causative voice (
Code: Select all
John-ABS eat-CAUS-ADJ Mark-ERG to cows
= “Mark helps John feed the cows.”
The adjutative has a secondary permissive meaning. (The examples above could be translated as: “Mark lets John build.”, “The potion lets John sleep.”, and “Mark lets John feed the cows.”, respectively.)
Īsmay has no dedicated reciprocal voice but there are two common strategies to express it.
The first strategy uses the active voice with a dedicated noun
which could be translated as “each other”:
= “We fight with each other.”
The second strategy consists of antipassivization and repetition of the agent with the preposition among
= “We fight with each other.”
The voices mentioned below have a strong lexical component, to the point of often being covered as separate lexicon entries. Because of that, they are often combined with other - syntactical - voice markers.
The causative raises the valency of the verb by one, and places the causer in the ergative slot. It is to be noted that unaccusative verbs
can usually be transitivized by simply adding the causer as the ergative argument
while keeping the verb in active voice. (“The tree fell” > “I felled the tree”). However, the dedicated causative voice can also be used - and has to be used for transitive verbs and unergative intransitives. The causee becomes the absolutive argument. If the underlying verb was transitive, the previous direct object can be reintroduced as an oblique argument. The causative is very productive lexically. (eat-CAUS = “feed” to give one example).
The cooperative voice expresses reciprocity or common action. It turns “selling” into “trading”, and “eating” into “feasting”. Because of the prominence of this semantic role, the cooperative can be used with a singular subject, with the other actors remaining implicit. It is to be noted that the cooperative places the agent in the absolutive and detransitivizes an affected transitive verb. The undergoer, as well as implied cooperators, are demoted to optional oblique arguments.
= “I have sex (with her)”;
= “I fight in a squad/army”, etc.)
The cooperative’s prefix frequently loses the echo vowel if prefixed with another voice prefix due to syncope rules.
Under the spoiler, the actual voice affixes are provided.