|From:||Tim May <butsuri@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, August 10, 2003, 15:03|
Nik Taylor wrote at 2003-08-09 22:37:02 (-0500)
> Chris Bates wrote:
> > If the languages does indeed mark it:
> > 2. Robert-<erg> cooked.
> > without an abs than it is not actually an ergative language at all.
> Uh, yes it is. It depends on the language. Many undebatably
> accusative languages allow you to drop arguments. In Japanese, for
> example, you can freely drop the nominative or the accusative or
> both, if clear from context. There's no reason an ergative
> language can't do the same.
> Besides which, ergativity is not a black-or-white category. A
> language can have ergative marking on nouns, but accusative syntax,
> for example.
Yes, there's a passage in _Describing Morphosyntax_ which might be
worth quoting here:
| At this point we are prepared to provide a broader characterization
| of ergativity. The broadest possible definition of ergativity is
| the following:
| An ergative/absolutive system is any morphosyntactic system
| which unites S and P as opposed to A.
| This definition refers to _systems_ (i.e., case marking, verb
| agreement, etc.), not languages. The term "ergative language" is
| simply an informal term that refers to languages that have an
| ergative case-marking system on full noun phrases in basic clauses
| (e.g. Eskimo languages), or exhibit an ergative system of verb
| agreement and no case marking on noun phrases (e.g., Mayan
| languages). Ergativity itself is merely a convenient way of
| conceptualizing some aspects of the clause structure of some
| languages. It is not a holistic typology that necessarily makes a
| wide range of predictions concerning other aspects of a language's
| grammatical structure.