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Re: Ergativity

From:michael poxon <m.poxon@...>
Date:Saturday, August 16, 2003, 17:15
Hey Chris - don't put yourself down! You didn't as far as I know piss anyone
off. The point is, the categories employed by linguists relate to the fluid
medium of language, where structures obey our descriptions of them only so
far. Terms like "Ergative languages" are fine for describing general
grammatical traits, but the phenomenon these terms describe is not one
simple, easily-defined entity. Think of it like maths: a description of how
the world is, not the world itself. Does that help? As a tentative bit of
advice, have a look at some non-IE languages to get a feel of how they work.
> That's what the recent argument was about after all. I wanted to apply > the definition of ergative more strictly than others felt was right or > read too much into the description, and what I eventually after thinking > about it understood was that.... I still believe that what I was arguing > should happen in a typical ergative language, but this evening I > realised that what everyone else knew was that there was no such thing.
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