Research Articles

A descriptive account of agentless constructions in Sylheti: passive, impersonal, and anticausative

Authors
  • E. Marie Thaut
  • Andriana Koumbarou
  • Zurab Baratashvili

Abstract

We identify three constructions in Sylheti which license the non-mention of an agent argument or do not allow the realisation of one. We describe a passive construction, which allows the realisation of an agent followed by the converbial instrumental dia ‘by’, formed with the addition of a nominalizing suffix -a to the verbal root and the tensed passive auxiliary o- ‘become’. The second construction is an impersonal passive with the passive auxiliary za- ‘go’, which does not allow the realisation of an agent argument and gives rise to possibilitative readings. Further, za- also acts as a light verb realised with verbal stems which can take a single argument interpreted as the ‘undergoer’ of the action, achieving an anticausative reading; this construction does not allow the realisation of an agent but does allow the realisation of the cause of the event such as a natural force marked with the agentive/instrumental -e. To describe these three constructions, this paper also provides a brief sketch of the distributional patterns of two Sylheti case markers, namely -e, which surfaces on both agents and instruments, and -re, which attaches to themes/patients, as well as recipients.

Keywords: Sylheti, Constructions, Passive, Inpersonal, Anticausative

How to Cite:

Thaut, E., Koumbarou, A. & Baratashvili, Z., (2020) “A descriptive account of agentless constructions in Sylheti: passive, impersonal, and anticausative”, Language Documentation and Description 18, 112-134. doi: https://doi.org/10.25894/ldd90

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Published on
31 Aug 2020
Peer Reviewed