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THEORY: Ergative, word order, and predicates

From:Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Date:Monday, September 25, 2006, 5:12
I seem to recall that typologically speaking, it is common for head-
final languages to be SOV (or otherwise verb-last).  Does this
correlation also apply for ergative languages?  I'm thinking that in
an accusative language, SOV translates to nominative noun-accusative
noun-verb, and since the nominative is less marked, that means it's
less marked-more marked-verb.  Thus, when speaking of an ergative
language, in which the absolutive is the less marked case, if I
follow the same markedness-based ordering, I end up with the order
absolutive noun-ergative noun-verb, which in turn is OSV.  I hope
that all makes sense; if not, my main question is: is it more
"typical" for a head-final ergative language to be SOV, or OSV?

Also, while thinking about this, I started wondering, is the
definition of a predicate the same in an ergative language as in an
accusative one, i.e. the verb with its object?  Or would a predicate
in an ergative language be the verb along with its subject?  Bonus
question: if a predicate is still composed of the verb and its
object, does that mean that an intransitive predicate consists of the
verb and its subject (since the intransitive subject patterns with
the transitive object)?


Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>