By by Janessa L. Brown.
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Extra info for A brief sketch of Urama grammer with special consideration of particles marking agency, aspect, and modality
98) Aro'o hibai that ro crocodile AG niti iohoi ri 3D SUBCL start seek ovaharoi ka oboi DEC water tuai. middle The crocodile started looking for them in the river. (ANC8) Why is hibai ‘crocodile’ not marked with ro in Example (97) when it is the subject of the verb oho ‘seek’ (as well as several other transitive verbs)? It does take ro in Example (98) with the same verb. Examples (97) and (98) indicate that the verb in the same clause as the subject is the only relevant one when it comes to marking the subject with the agentive ro.
Consider example (4) above repeated here as (101). 101) Umui ro dog AG bomoi adedeai ka. pig DEC bite The dog bit the pig. (PH6) The same degree of agency or animacy exists for umu ‘dog’ and bomo ‘pig’, and both of these participants have already been introduced, there may be ambiguity as to which participant was actually doing the biting. This clause is in the expected basic word order, however because of the variability of the word order in the language, there may be some ambiguity as to which participant is the subject.
We can consider this clause to be highly transitive, and thus the subject is marked with ro. Conversely a sentence without the ro marker should display more of the low transitivity 27 I am referring especially to the typical ditransitive ema’ai ‘give’ 28 One of the ditransitive examples that did not have the ergative marker had a habitual verb, causing it to be durative rather than punctiliar, which according to the Transitivity Scale is less transitive. 49 attributes, even if the verb is one that is considered transitive in the sense that it takes two arguments.