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Ergativity and verbs forms

From:Doug Dee <amateurlinguist@...>
Date:Thursday, June 17, 2004, 23:18
I've read that some of the Cetic languages have sentences roughly like these:

I am at eating the pizza (=I'm eating the pizza)
I am after eating the pizza (=I have eaten the pizza)
I am on eating the pizza (=I'm about to eat the pizza)
I am without eating the pizza (=I haven't eaten the pizza)

My question is: suppose you had constructions like this in a language with
ergative case-marking.  Would "I" be in the ergative case or the absolutive?  On
the one hand, these sentences are all different tense/aspect versions of "I
ate the pizza," so you might say they're notionally transitive & so "I" should
be ergative.  On the other hand, you could say they're formally intransitive
-- the verb "am" is intransitive, & it's followed by a preposition and then a
verbal noun/gerund/whatever you call it with its object.  So "I" should be
absolutive, as the subject of an intranstive verb.



Michael Poxon <m.poxon@...>