Lost Causes:
Morphological Causative Constructions
in Two Philippine Languages


Walter Louis Spitz




This study of morphological Causative constructions in Hiligaynon (Visayan) and Yogad (Northern Cordilleran) relevates
VOICE and ROLE in the linguistic construction of EVENTS. A 'VSO' configuration characterizes the PROPOSITIONAL NUCLEUS of each language. Verbal affixes distinguish numerous VOICES (not Active/Passive); each selects a specific EVENT PHASE (e.g. INCEPT, MIDDLE, CRUX, LIMIT) for FOCUS. Nominal Determiners and/or Pronouns indicate which of the two NUCLEAR ROLES is FOCUSSED and which is UNFOCUSSED.

In prototypical Causative scenarios, the morpheme -pa-, in conjunction with any of the VOICES, effects a DISPLACEMENT of the EVENT process from the ('AGENTIVE') 'S'-ROLE (or 'Causer') to a NON-NUCLEAR 'EXECUTIVE' (or 'Causee'), which acts upon the NUCLEAR ('PATIENTIVE') 'O'-ROLE (or 'Affectee'), any of which can be FOCUSSED via VOICE. The result is a weak Causative (cf. German lassen). In certain other EVENTS, the Causer acts more directly upon a hybrid Causee/Affectee. Elsewhere, pa- suggests a (non-Causative) 'change', 'gradedness', 'tendency', or 'direction' devoid of any ROLE contrast.

Hiligaynon VOICE is more ROLE-prominent than Yogad VOICE. The NUCLEAR ROLES of Hiligaynon are either MOTILE or INERT, while Yogad shows a minimalistic ERUPTIVE/POST-ERUPTIVE contrast. (If Hiligaynon drives, Yogad drifts.) Hiligaynon morphosyntax highlights DISCONTINUITY: its word order and tripartite Pronoun inventory distinguish pre-Verbal (DISCONTINUOUS, 'asserted') and post-Verbal (CONTINUOUS, 'mentioned') PARTICIPANTS; and Prepositions marginalize NON NUCLEAR PARTICIPANTS as OBLIQUES. Hiligaynon -pa- also 'intensifies', especially with 'reduplication'.

Yogad lacks pre-Verbal ('assertive') Pronouns as well as Prepositions which might mark NON-NUCLEAR PARTICIPANTS as OBLIQUES; DISCONTINUOUS elements are marked with the particle ay. Yogad -pa- neither 'intensifies' nor 'reduplicates'; however, the MIDDLE VOICE -pag- marks a 'direct' Causative (absent from Hiligaynon) which consistently focusses the Causee.

All Causatives thus emerge as complex epiphenomena of VOICE, ROLE, and EVENT. In prioritizing Verbal EVENT semantics over Nominal PARTICIPANT semantics, these languages expose the often disabling reocentrism of theoretical linguistics, which is informed by Noun-centered Indo-European grammar, by writing, and by its own scientism.