many languages, middle diathesis can signal reflexive or reciprocal meaning, thatthe direct object of a transitive verb is somehow within the subject’s sphere(possession, body part), or that the subject acts in his or her own interest. Somemiddles permit passive or non-causative readings (as opposed to the causativemeaning of the corresponding actives). In terms of the parameter of ‘degree of distinguishability of participants’, Kemmer (1994: 209) situates middle andreflexive ‘situation types’, where they are marked by distinct morphology, in thezone between one-participant and two-participant events — both of which areassociated with the active voice (Kemmer 1993: 202). What thesecharacterizations of middle semantics have in common is that they describe themiddle as a sort of ‘transitive-minus’ [
], i.e. middle verbs arecontrasted to their active-transitive counterparts as lower in such parameters astransitivity, valence or distinguishability of participants.
Compared to the above construction type, the Latin deponent is not so much a‘transitive-minus’ as a ‘passive-plus’ [
]. The Latin
paradigms arefundamentally passive, not middle, in meaning. For the large majority of verbswhich form both active and passive paradigms, the latter signal the demotion of the agent from subject position (Risselada 1991; Kurzová 1993: 160-1). For the purposes of this paper, I will limit the use of ‘deponent’ to PASS+ verbs in particular, defined as verbs with
(or ‘diathesis’, followingthe usage of Klaiman 1988 and Duhoux 2000) but
. Formalfeatures are qualified as markers of passive diathesis if — in a clear majority of cases — they signal a syntactic transformation which promotes a non-actor argument to grammatical subject position and/or demotes the actor argument. For at least some Latin deponents, their active syntax is confirmed by the attestationof active-diathesis counterparts which assign the same case role to their subjects(
“I flatter obsequiously, like a dog” and
“I fawn, flatter” (Flobert1975: 104-5, 287)).
2 Kartvelian TRANS— and PASS+ verb types
The Georgian language, and to varying degrees, its sister Kartvelian languagesLaz-Mingrelian and Svan, have both of the construction types described above. Inorder to understand their structure and how each contrasts with other verb forms,it is important to take in account the following grammatical categories, which inall likelihood go back to the Proto-Kartvelian ancestral language:(a). A fundamental distinction between two classes of verbs: those that assignergative case in the aorist series of tense-aspect paradigms (case-shifting, or ‘active’ verbs), and those that do not (non-case-shifting, or ‘passive’ verbs). Thiscategory has been likened to voice by Georgian linguists (e.g. Shanidze 1953).(b). An independent grammatical category known as ‘version’ (Geo.
),marked by a vowel morpheme placed between the person prefix and the verb root.The case-shifting and non-case-shifting verb classes can be further subdivided by
Not discussed here, for reasons of space, are agentless transitives, such as Latin
“I amashamed” or Georgian
“I am overcome by trembling”; lit. “X (fear, chill,illness, etc.) makes me tremble”, which are also of the transitive-minus type. These are transitiveverbs which are not accompanied by an overt subject NP. Johanna Nichols (p. c.) has detectedagentless transitives, which she calls ‘deponents’, in Chechen and Ingush.