Speech-act participant

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Speech-act participant (abbreviated SAP) refers to 1st or 2nd person to the exclusion of 3rd person.


Certain subsystems of a language’s grammar are sensitive to speech-act participants. (They do not distinguish between 1st or 2nd person, but contrast them both with third person (non-speech-act participant).)

In Sahaptin, the ergative case appears on 3rd person nouns only if the object is a speech-act participant (Rude 1997):

ɨwínš-nɨm=naš i-q̓ínun-a
man-ERG=1SG 3nom-see-PST
The man saw me.

ɨwínš-nɨm=am i-q̓ínun-a
man-ERG=2SG 3nom-see-PST
The man saw you.

If the object is not a speech-act participant, the 3rd person noun may not be marked by ergative case:

ɨwínš i-q̓ínun-a miyánaš-na
man 3nom-see-PST child-ACC
The man saw the child.
(*ɨwínš-nɨm i-q̓ínun-a miyánaš-na)


In some literature (e.g. Andrews 1985), the term local is used for the speech-act participant.





Andrews, Avery. 1985. The major functions of the noun phrase. In Language Typology and syntactic description, vol. 1. Clause structure, ed. by Timothy Shopen, pp. 62–154

Rude, Noel. 1997. On the history of nominal case in Sahaptian. In International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 63, No. 1. University of Chicago Press, pp. 113–143