Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Theta roles, animacy and passivity in Latin

If this post seems weird, don't sweat it. I'm putting it up so that I can remember it more easily if I need something to research.

Last night we were talking about the difficulties children face in acquiring passives. One of the problems was reversible theta roles, specifically agent and instrument. As we all know, Latin treats these differently in terms of syntax. Which got me to wondering. Does the Latin passive favor animate subjects to inanimate subjects?

My hunch is yes. But in and of itself it isn't a very interesting question. The interesting question to ask is how does Latin passive use relate to later literature in Romance languages? Does passive favor mentioning agents or instruments? Does passive favor animate subjects? How is this similar/different in daughter languages?