Which sentence has an ergative verb and which is in the middle voice?

Molly broke the china.

The china broke.

China breaks easily.
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Comments  (Page 5) 
Milky*2. The bacon cuts easily all by itself (Not ergative. So, we can see that as a good example of a middle construction - that is, if it is referring to non-volitional and a general case and not single event of cutting bacon)

3. The bacon tastes nice all by itself. (Ergative)

In the second example, "all by itself" means "without accompaniment", e.g. without lettuce and tomato.

But the sense of "all by itself" we discussed before was "by its own volition".

MrPedanticIn the second example, "all by itself" means "without accompaniment", e.g. without lettuce and tomato.

But the sense of "all by itself" we discussed before was "by its own volition".


No, it means "by its own volition" there. I wrote that sentence to demonstrate how volitional "all by itself" cannot fit there.
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Sorry, I meant: "in the third example".

MrPedanticSorry, I meant: "in the third example".


Yes, I know, but the use of "all by itself" still means "without external assistance" even in that one. It could have the meaning you imply, but that was not the meaning I intended.
Even so, if bacon can taste nice "without external assistance", it can "cut easily" without external assistance.

Bacon tastes nice without the necessity of adding flavour enhancers. Bacon cuts easily without the necessity of pounding it with a mallet first.

(I prefer "without external assistance" to "all by itself". The latter has distracting nursery school associations.)

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My name is Day, and i just want to correct you, in english grammar, we have middle voice which we call it the REFLEXIVE VOICE...
Ergative pair: the china broke. (Intransitive form)

Molly broke the china (Transitive form)
Middle pair: China braeks easily.
The distinctions can be a bit obscure. It's because many Eng. verbs can fall into both categories. A proposed distinction (1)is that Ergatives are intransitives in nature, but have both transitive and intransitive thematic frames in the lexicon. However, middles are transitive in nature, having only the transitive thematic frame in the lexicon, although the theta role of agent is not expressed. The confusion may come from the fact that the transitive form of the ergative can undergo middle formation.
However, according to the argument shift approach,(2) middles already have their "intransitive" thematic frame n the lexicon.
Try this: Middle voice has an adverb at the end.
Check: (1) Keyser, Samuel Jay and Roeper, Thomas, 1984. They make a thorough discussion on the topic. Also, (2) Di Sciullo, Anna Maria, 2005.
Hope it helps you!
Lovely treatment, paco, but please can you find a different example for an amphoteric verb that cannot be used as an ergative?

The book sold for $23; over a million were sold. (middle voice)
The Rembrandt sold for $23 000 000. (ergative)

Edwin Ashworth
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AnonymousLovely treatment, paco, but please ...
Please note that Paco's last post on this thread was more than five years ago. During the last months that he posted on this forum he made a few remarks that indicated he was quite old and not in good health, so there is reason to believe that he has died. At least we haven't seen him on this site for quite a few years since those last posts. Sorry. Emotion: sad

Nevertheless, someone else may be able to help if you'll just be patient.

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