eldin raigmore wrote: ↑
24 Jul 2020 22:59
Who is the default agent in verbs in your natlang(s) or conlang(s), or those ‘langs you know?
In English, the “correct” (i.e. normative) interpretation of an unmarked verb, is second-person imperative.
However in colloquial speech (or at least my idiolect of it), it is frequently first-person declarative; normally first-person-singular.
For English, maybe it'd be more correct to say it's a form which doubles as an imperative and a "bare" infinitive (and also a subjunctive of sorts).
For most languages that have person agreement, I imagine the most unmarked form tends to be the 2SG imperative, or a basic present or past 3SG, or the infinitive, sometimes possibly the basic present 1SG as well.
In Latin it's definitely the 2SG imperative with its use of a bare thematic vowel at the end: amā, movē, cape, audī. (No dictionary uses that though, as the established convention is to use the basic present 1SG: amō, moveō, capiō, audiō.)
Verbs in modern Romance languages tend to be divided into a "weak", productive subcategory (which descends from Latin -āre, often as -i-āre, -t-āre) and a "strong" not very productive subcategory that also holds the bulk of irregular verbs (from Latin -ēre, -ere including -sc-ere, and -īre). If you agree to this, the 2SG imperative, often identical to the basic present 3SG form, would be the least unmarked form in many languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and Italian: canta, vive.
However, French is different due to having largely gotten rid of its inherited 2SG imperative, replacing it with the 2SG present, something still visible in the archaizing orthography. French is also different in that the two subcategories, weak and strong, are not as distinct as in other Romance languages, due to the heavy phonetic decay/change. The main differences are whether the infinitive ends in /e/ (weak) or /ʁ/ (strong, often as part of a longer /iʁ/ or /waʁ/ suffix), and whether the past participle ends in /e/ (weak) or a variety of endings such as /y i ɛ̃(t) i(z)/ (strong), the rest mostly involving memorizing irregular stems of certain TAM paradigms (which, again, are largely found among the strong verbs. So it's a question whether it's worth it to try to distinguish the weak and strong verbs, but if you want to, perhaps either the infinitive or the past participle themselves do an alright job: chanter sentir /ʃɑ̃te sɑ̃tiʁ/, or chanté senti /ʃɑ̃te sɑ̃ti/. Otherwise, the present 1SG/2SG/3SG (generally identical) would be the least marked: chante/chantes/chante /ʃɑ̃t/, sens/sens/sent /sɑ̃/.
In Romanian, the 2SG imperative kind of works, except for the verbs that descend from Latin -īre, which often but not always add an extra suffix -eșt- (from -e-sc-) before an ending -e grabbed from elsewhere in the strong paradigms: Lat. fer-ī > *fer-esc-e > Rom. ferește, but Lat. *ad-cooper(ī)-e > Rom. acopere. Better than this, Romanian provides an infinitive with the Latin -re suffix completely dropped, leaving a naked thematic vowel: cânta, cădea, pune, feri /kɨnˈta kaˈde̯a ˈpune feˈɾi/.
In Standard Arabic, the 3SG.MASC past-tense is very unmarked: CaCVCa, e.g. kataba 'he wrote' (other forms involve more segments or at least a long vowel). The other good candidate would be the 2SG.MASC imperative, VCCVC, e.g. uktub 'write! (you, man)'; the only problem it has is that it tends to really obscure roots beginning or ending with the /w/ and /j/ consonants. There is also the 1SG jussive ʔaCCVC, but it's bad as an unmarked form as it's not among the most statistically common, appearing mainly in some
negated past-tense sentences. The notion of thematic subcategories does not apply in this language to guide us as previously done with Romance either.