October 23, 2017

Factitive Verbs in Tibetan?

Prof. Wezler notes (Wezler 1994: 178, n. 13) that there is such as a thing as “factitive Bahuvrīhi (a term introduced by J. Schindler for Vedic compunds like vipravīra = vīrān viprān kṛṇvant).” The word factitive is said to be from modern Latin factitivus, formed irregularly from Latin factitare, frequentative of facere ‘do, make.’ My interest here is if we have factitive verbs in Tibetan. But let us see know factitive is understood. One dictionary states “(of a verb) having a sense of causing a result and taking a complement as well as an object, as in he appointed me captain.” Another explains factitive as “designating or of a verb that expresses the idea of making, calling, or thinking something to be of a certain character, using a noun, pronoun, or adjective as a complement to its direct object (e.g. make the dress short, elect him mayor).” But would factitive not be the same as or similar to causative? A grammarian online explains “factitive verbs and causative verbs” (in English) as follows:

Factitive verbs are verbs that make or render one thing into something else. Such verbs take two objects, one a direct object and the other a predicate object—someone makes something something else, e.g. “Let’s paint the barn red” or “Studying grammar makes me ill.” Factitive verbs include verbs of making, rendering, calling, naming, nominating, etc. Example: “They call me Ishmael.” Notice that these verbs may also be passive: “He was elected president.” Note that a verb of motion can be used with a cognate object to form a factitive, as in “to fly an airplane” = “to make an airplane fly”, “to walk the dog” = “to make the dog walk.”

Causative verbs have been explained as follows: “Verbs such as “have,” “make,” “get,” “help,” “let,” “allow,” “force,” “cause,” etc. can be used with the complementary infinitive to show that the subject has caused someone to do something, as in: “I had him take out the garbage;” “I made him take it out;” “I got him to take it out;” “I let him take it out;” etc.

In sum, it seems that a factive verb “makes X into a Y (i.e. a noun)” whereas a causative verb “makes X to do Y (infinitive verb)” or “causes X to happen.”

An example of causative verb in Tibetan would be ’jug (as in ’gror ’jug “make/allow/permit/compel [someone] to go” and byed du ’jug “make/allow/permit/compel [someone] to do”). Note that both ’gro and byed are autonomous verbs. With a heteronomous verb (e.g. na ba),  it would be nar ’jug “to make [someone] sick” or “to cause someone to become sick.”

Perhaps there are many examples of factitive verbs in Tibetan. Some examples that come to my mind are: dmangs bu rgyal khrir ’khod (“to place a commoner boy to the royal throne”) or rgyal por mnga’ gsol (“to enthrone [someone] as the king”). Perhaps also verbs such as ’bebs in lta ba gtan la ’bebs (lit. “to bring down the view to the hilt” = “to establish the view”) is factitive.

But is “factitive Bahuvrīhi” in Tibetan possible? I do not know. Compounds in Tibetan are any way not always identifiable or distinct as such although short compounds such as lha byin/sbyin (devadatta)—contrasted with lhas byin/sbyin—are.

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