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Participles in ergative languages

From:Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Date:Monday, October 16, 2006, 3:47
I'm wondering if anyone has some insight into how participles are
used in ergative languages that have participles. (I am working on
making a daughter language of an ergative protoconlang created by
someone else.) I have a few issues with understanding them:

1. Voice. AFAIK, in accusative languages there are different
participles for different voices, e.g. active and passive -- thus
"loving" is an active participle, because it describes someone who is
an agent of loving; and "loved" is a passive participle, since it
describes someone who is a patient of loving. Do ergative languages
have e.g. an active participle, an antipassive participle, etc.?
(Actually, I'm not even sure if it is correct to call the usual voice
"active".) Do they have a passive participle, even if the actual
verbs don't recognize a passive category (which, AFAIK, some ergative
languages don't)?

2. If I want to say "I eat an apple", I would put "I" in the ergative
and "apple" in the absolutive. But what do I do if I want to say "I
am eating an apple", using a participle? On the one hand, I can
imagine using those same cases, but on the other hand, it seems like
you could conceive of the whole phrase "eating an apple" as
adjectival, and I think ergative languages generally use the
absolutive for the subject of an adjectival predicate. I.e. both "I"
and "apple" would be in the absolutive (unless of course the
participle would require its objects to be specified in an oblique
case, like the genitive). My intuition is that the choice of cases
would depend on how grammaticalized the copula+participle
construction is -- whether it's considered a periphrastic verb or
simply the conjunction of a copula and a participle, parallel to
conjunctions of copula and adjective or noun.


Eugene Oh <un.doing@...>
Christopher Bates <chris.maths_student@...>