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Re: Ergativity

From:Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 5, 2003, 20:00
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 One possibility is that this is simply some strange accusative system wherein the accusative is unmarked but the nominative is marked. How are intransitive sentences dealt with? To say "I am running", would you say Myáya n(w)a [run] Or Myáya [run] 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) . If it depends on the particular verb, or on the semantics of the situation, then it's active (and presumably one that evolved from an ergative system). -- "There's no such thing as 'cool'. Everyone's just a big dork or nerd, you just have to find people who are dorky the same way you are." - overheard ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTaylor42


Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>