Thursday, April 27, 2006

Voluntary and non-voluntary Verbs

As mentioned earlier, there's also the notion of so called voluntary versus non-voluntary verbs. Another name for this is volitional verbs versus non-volitional verbs, or transitive and intransitive verbs. Anyway, best to figure out what it's all about!

A voluntary verb or action means that someone is doing something specific, there's a very known agent that the subject is operating with. An non-voluntary action or verb means that you can't pinpoint who it is, someone is doing this in general, with no specific agent available.

As an example:

sangs rgyas (agent) kyis chos (object) bstan (verb). Buddha taught dharma. This is a voluntary verb operating.

gang ri (subject) sngon po (complement of subject) snang (verb): Mountains appear as blue. This is an involuntary verb operating.

So what's the deal? If you know if a verb is voluntary or not, you would look for the subject and agent, or know that there's no agent. It will help when translating material. Alas, not all dictionaries indicate if a verb is voluntary or not.

You could read more about this at the THDL Tibetan Reference Grammar online web page.

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