ERIC Number: ED338057
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Jul
Cross-Linguistic Evidence for the Structure of the Agent Prototype.
A discussion of agency looks at cross-linguistic evidence concerning the place of volition, animacy, and person in a model of agentivity. Two views of agentivity are presented as complementary rather than mutually contradictory. Data from Lhasa Tibetan that support a less restrictive notion of agency than is often assumed are presented. In this approach, neither animacy nor volition is an essential part of the definition. Evidence suggesting a much more restrictive notion of agentivity. in which the prototypical Agent is not only human and acting volitionally, but is also first person, is offered. It is proposed that agentivity can be defined as the first identifiable cause of an event, and that this is the basis of the elaborated agentive prototype in which volitionality figures. It is concluded that the Tibetan data suggest that agentivity is experientially based, but the full agentive prototype can be experienced only subjectively. This evidence for the relevance of person to the agent prototype is seen as being of particular interest in light of acquisitional evidence that predication of speaker agentivity appears earlier than attribution of agentivity to others. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: In: Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number Twenty-nine. California, Stanford University, 1990. p141-147.