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Re: Ergativity

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Monday, August 11, 2003, 7:05
Quoting Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>:

> But, here's my question. If a language marks nouns with S & P one way, > and A another, but verbs agree with S & A, and S/A is an obligatory > argument, what would you call it? It's not purely ergative, and it's > not purely accusative. I suppose you could call it "mixed", but then in > that case, there'd be no language on Earth that would be called > "ergative". Ergative languages generally have at least *some* > accusative features.
I think the question should be: does it make sense to speak of "ergative" vs. "accusative" languages at all? Many unquestionably 'accusative' languages have ergative traits as well; a whole book has been written on ergativity in German alone. To put it another way, the question that we should be asking is: what causes ergativity and accusativity to arise in languages in the distributions that they have? ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637


Joe <joe@...>