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    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 2,886
    #1

    middle voice

    Hello

    1 These woolens wash -- mediopassive?
    2 These vases brake -- mediopassive?

    3 These woolens washed (intentionally, but not accidentally) -- ergative, sounds
    4 These vases broke (accidentally, or intentionally) -- ergative, sounds

    question: could you please explain why 4 is but not 3.
    It seems to me that washed cannot be used ergatively.... Why?

    thanks

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: middle voice

    Correction
    2 These vases break.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #3

    Re: middle voice

    Wash, like dress and shave, is intrinsically reflexive; e.g., Max washed (herself). Cf. ?The vase washed (itself). It's a self-cleaning vase. Possible, yes, but not a reality yet.

    All the best.

    Note that,

    This vase washes well. <mediopassive>
    This vase washes (itself). <middle voice> Cf. These cookies bake.
    ?This vase washed (*itself). <ergative> *intrinsic reflexivity

    With ergative verbs someone or something does the act; the object doesn't act itself. Cf. This vase broke means something or someone caused it to break. It didn't break on its own.

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