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Re: CONLANG Digest - 21 Feb 2004 to 22 Feb 2004 (#2004-52)

From:Doug Dee <amateurlinguist@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 24, 2004, 23:12
In a message dated 2/24/2004 4:54:05 AM Eastern Standard Time,
herodote92@YAHOO.COM writes:

>If I may ask: isn't it remarkable that languages >presented as examples for ergativity (Basque, Eskimo, >Georgian, Dyirbal...) nearly always seem to be used in >very far-off, hidden and hardly reachable places, >seeming to indicate that these people had little >contact with other ones ?
>Or maybe one could find couter-examples showing that >also accusative languages are spoken in such places ?
I'm not sure that the Basques in the Pyrenees are any less reachable than the speakers of accusative languages in the Alps. And they seem less isolated than the Icelanders. There are many ergative languages in Australia, and many accusative ones. It would be hard to claim any of them are isolated, since they all have neighbors, and Australia isn't particularly mountainous, so they're not cut off from each other. I think there's a good selection of accusative languages in the Caucasus as well. Hindi has "some ergative morphology" (per Dixon) and cannot be considered isolated or hard to reach. Doug