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Original scientific paper
Dimka Saavedra; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Sofijsko sveučilište "Sv. Kl. Ohridski"

 

Summary

In this paper the category of deagentivity, with its sematic features and its formal means of expression, is addressed to from the functional point of view. Semantics typical for this category concerns the way extralinguistic events in question are presented – the actant for the agent being partly or completely removed from the actant structure of the predicate (where the notion ’agent’ includes two semantic distinctive features: ’human’ and ’conscious’ and one formal: the doer must be the syntactic subject in the agentive version of the sentence). The ground for presenting human physical and mental activities by deagentive constructions shared by all such constructions is the pragmatic presupposition of the speaker: Never mind who, but what. According to Bondarko’s notion of functional–semantic field, the functional–semantic category consists of the core (or prototype in cognitive terminology) and the periphery. The category of deagentivity disposes of prototypical devices (with ’pure’ deagentive meaning). Such are constructions of the type: O tom pitanju puno se pisalo / puno je pisano with the passive forms not agreeing with subject, therefore being impersonal predicates. Other types of deagentive constructions include additional semantic segments. Closest to the prototypical impersonal passive constructions are passive constructions, differing from the former by the point from which the speaker presents the event, i. e. the ’standing by’ Patient. But the category of deagentivity does not entirely include the category of passive: passive constructions with the Agent marked as ’non–human’ or ’human unconscious’ are out of the scope of the category in question. The so–called ’passivised’ constructions (Njega se uvijek pitalo), typical of Croatian, enter the deagentive field too.
Personal verb form (although, like prototypical constructions, lacking conjugation) is also found in the deagentive device called the undetermined personal verb (Ponekad u tim novinama pišu svašta). Its additional, deictic–type presupposition to the basic one is that the agent is someone other than the participants in communication.
Further device for expressing deagentivity is the infinite form, used when the speaker wants to present in a deagentive way the situations connected with subjective modality (Treba uporno raditi), with objective modality in questions (Zašto treba uporno raditi?) and for evaluative semantics (Dobro je uporno raditi) – i. e. in the circumstances when the speaker’s attitude is more significant than in common statements (expressed by clauses of statement with simple verb predicates in deagentive types considered so far). On the other hand, deagentive infinitive is well suited to express verb action in the positions typical for nouns: in statements of identity (Raditi isto je što i živjeti) and in an attribute not agreeing with another, main noun (Uvijek je dijelio mladima savjet: govoriti istinu).
The category of deagentivity is a syntactic–semantic category which must be separated from some related linguistic phenomena. On the one hand, verbal action without an actor is expressed by verbal nouns as well, but this is the characteristic of the noun as a part of speech. On the other hand, sentences with logical subject (i. e. those which express physiological and psychological states of an actor–perceiver) the construction with the perceiver as a subject transforms into constructions with de–subjectivized perceiver, but this modification takes place at the lexical, not syntactic level. Finaly, in constructions with the generalized agent the extralinguistic actor differs from the agent. This modification, however, takes place not at the linguistic level, but at the level of language use. Therefore it can be performed not only on agentive constructions, but on deagentive ones, as well.

 

Keywords

deagentivity, functional–semantic field, passive, topicalisation, Croatian language

 

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