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Re: Ergativity

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 5, 2003, 23:17
Quoting Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>:

> Rob Haden wrote: > > I was wondering if the sentences below demonstrate an ergative > > distinction in Pre-OurTongue: > > > > Myáya n(w)a thwáya ?yát?ya. > > Me [GEN] you eat. > > I am eating you. > > > > Myáya n(w)a ?yát?ya. > > Me [GEN] eat. > > I am eating (something). > > > > Myáya ?yát?ya. > > Me eat. > > I am being eaten (lit. '(Something) is eating me'). > > Without further information, it's impossible to tell. I would guess > that it's ergative, but I can't be sure without further information
> If it's the first, then it's accusative, albeit an unusual one, since > nominative, but *not* accusative, is marked. If it's the second, then > it's ergative (and a fairly typical one at that, since ergative is > marked but not absolutive; and using the same suffix for genitive and > ergative is not uncommon either) .
Whatever it is, it cannot be a typical ergative system, because the second sentence of his is intransitive (with "something" implied but not possible to state). One other possibility is that that the case marker is prepositional, but the argument itself (*not* the case marker) can be elided. This latter possibility would be in its fundamentals a textbook accusative system. ========================================================================= 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