When looking up an antitransitive (see notes) like D:Øl: or kÙX in a Hindi-Hindi dictionary, one often finds a passive like D:aðy:a j:a, kÝXa j:a given as definition. It is true that the one can sometimes be substituted for the other.
/ D:aðO j:a
1. Et:n:ð s:ð p:an:i m:ðø y:ð s:arð kp:_ð n:hiø
\ D:Øl: s:kñùg:ð.
'This is not enough water to wash all these clothes.'
However, there are distinct differences. These can be summed up by saying
that the subject of a passive is still felt to be the patient of an action
while the subject of an antitransitive seems more like an agent.
The clearest reflection of this is the possibility of retaining kað with the subjects of passives (see notes on passives):
2. p:Øel:s: Ensp:ðVXr kñ p:as: faòrn: p:hØúc:a edy:a j:aO.
y:h Q:t: /
'Make sure this letter gets to the chief of police right away.'
The retention of kað is impossible for the subjects of antitransitives:
3. y:h Q:t: p:Øel:s: Ensp:ðVXr
kñ p:as: faòrn: p:hØúc: j:aO.
The subject of an antitransitive is felt to be more responsible for the action than is the subject of a passive. The former can appear with Ap:n:ð Aap: ; the latter cannot :
4. py:ael:y:aú Ap:n:ð Aap:
XÜX j:at:i hòø, m:ðm:s:ahb:.
'The cups break all by themselves, Ma'am.'
This can be uttered by the very party guilty of breaking the cups. By contrast, the passive leaves the responsibility for the action with the 'real' performer (even though he is usually not mentioned). Thus, adverbs like j:an:-b:ÜJ:kr , which refer back to an implied agent, may occur with a passive but not with an antitransitive:
5. m:òø kht:i hÜú ek
py:ael:y:aú j:an:-b:ÜJ:kr t:að_i
'I say the cups are being broken on purpose.'
Similarly, those conjunctives which are used as a kind of adverb of manner (see NNN) can be used only with passives:
6. hT:aò_i m:arkr s:ari
b:aðt:l:ðø Pað_i g:Iø.
'All the bottles were broken with a hammer.'
To add hT:aò_i m:arkr to the
antitransitive s:ari b:aðt:l:ðø
PÝX g:o would have the effect of endowing bottles
with arms and suicidal intentions.
However, Ap:n:a usually refers back to an implied agent regardless of whether the verb is a passive or an antitransitive :
b:ðc:ð n:hiø j:at:ð.
7. Ap:n:a p:ðX B:rn:ð kñ el:y:ð b:cc:ð
\ n:hiø eb:kt:ð
'You don't sell your children just to fill your stomach.'
Since the subject of an antitransitive is felt in some sense to be the agent of its action, the modal verb p:a 'manage to, be able to' may occur with it:
8. eds:mb:r kað D:im:i D:Üp:
s:ð Aadm:i kñ haT: es:øk n:hiø p:at:ð.
'The December sun is too weak to warm a man's hands.'
With the passive the occurrence of p:an:a is impossible; only s:kn:a may occur :
9. Aøg:iYi kñ p:as: b:òYkr
p:òr n:hiø s:ðùkñ j:a s:kt:ð
'You can't warm your feet sitting near the hibachi.'
An Antitransitive may occur as a conjunctive; a passive may not :
10. us:kñ daút: Q:Üb: m:új:kr
'Her teeth, having been well scoured, began to shine.' (In India teeth are often scoured
with a black powder applied with the forefinger rather than with a brush.)
Some speakers feel that there is a subtle difference in meaning between the passive and the antitransitive of incapacity : The first may express unwillingness while the second expresses physical inability :
11a. didi kað p:aòT:ð Et:n:ð p:s:nd
hòø ek us:s:ð uK:a_ð n:hiø j:at:ð.
'Didi can't bear to pull up the plants. (She likes them so much.)'
11b. didi Et:n:i km:z:aðr hò ek us:s:ð
p:aòT:ð n:hiø uK:_t:ð.
'Didi can't pull up the plants. (She is so weak.)'
This difference must, of course, disappear where the choice of using the antitransitive does not exist :
12. m:ØJ:s:ð g:ay: ka dÜD: ep:y:a
'I can't stand cows milk.' (Either I don't like it or I get sick from it.)
Bear in mind that while only some transitive verbs have corresponding antitransitives, all transitives and all intransitives (with the exception of the antitransitive themselves) are potentially passivizable. When a verb is passivized its grammar is changed but its meaning is not. Thus l:ada j:a has no meanings other than those of l:ad. The antitransitive l:ad , however, shows more autonomy. It can be used as an alternate to l:ada j:a in the meaning 'be loaded' but it also can be used in contexts impossible for l:ada j:a :
13. p:ð_ p:kñ hØO
Aam:aðø s:ð l:dð T:ð.
'The trees were laden with ripe mangos.'
Here l:d cannot be directly derived from l:ad , since there is no l:adn:ðv:al:a . Other autonomous meanings of l:d include 'die' and 'go to jail'.
With a bit of effort one may imagine how a
derivative of 'load' developed these divergent secondary meanings.
What is important to realize is that in these autonomous meanings
erstwhile antitransitives lose the special properties that distinguish
them from ordinary intransitives: Ap:n:a
refers only to the subject, not to an implied agent:
14. Ap:n:a p:ðX B:rn:ð kñ el:O hi As:l:i dðS:B:Vt: dØSm:n: kñ haT:aðø m:ðø n:hiø eb:kt:ð.
'True patriots do not sell out to the enemy simply to fill their stomachs.' [Compare (7).]
And conjunctives of manner may occur:
15. t:Øm: j:an:-b:ÜJ:kr kX g:y:ð.
'You avoided (us) on purpose.' [Compare (5).]
Indeed secondary meanings may come close to
crowding out the original meaning of an antitransitive. Thus,
es:m:X, the antitransitive of s:m:ðX 'collect', only rarely occurs as a
synonym of s:m:ðXa j:a :
16. m:hri s:ð y:ð s:ari b:al:eXy:aú Ok hi b:ar m:ðø n:hiø s:m:ðXi j:aOûg:i ( ? es:m:Xðøg:i ) .
'The kitchen maid won't be able to collect all these buckets in one trip.'
Usually es:m:X means 'shrink (in fear)':
17. AúD:ðrð m:ðø c:Ühð ki l:al: AaúK:ðø dðK:kr v:h kÙrs:i m:ðø es:m:X g:y:a.
'Seeing the rat's red eyes in the dark, he shrank into his chair.'
For more on the difference between passive and antitransitive, see s:hay: 1976.
(These notes are based in part on section 19B of Hindi Strucures, pp. 177-183.)
Index of grammatical notes.
To index of m:lhar.
Keyed in by ev:v:ðk Ag:rv:al: in May 2002. Posted (in part) 5 July 2002. Last part keyed in and posted 19 July 2002.