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Re: Ergative (was: Re: Are some languages easier to learn?)

From:B.Philip.Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Thursday, October 22, 1998, 9:24
At 03:43 -0500 on 21.10.1998, R. Skrintha wrote:

> Hi, > > On Sun, 18 Oct 1998, Matt Pearson wrote: > > > In Hindi - and, I believe, many/most/all other Indo-Aryan languages - > > a split-ergative system is found, such that ergative-absolutive (or > > ergative-accusative) marking, together with an ergative agreement > > pattern, shows up in perfective clauses.
> I suspect it might have developed from (classical) Sanskrit sentences in > which during a certain period it became common to write verbless sentences > with the agent in the instrmental. Eg., > > Raamena etat dRSTam (asti) > Raama-INSTR this seen (is) > "by Raama this is seen" > > ("R" is vocalic; "S" = /S/; "T" is retroflex) > > Over time, the -ena masculine instr. ending took on an ergative > appearance, (thus: Raamena --> Raam ne) while the patient was reanalyzed > as an accusative.
The NIA ergative construction indeed developed from this Sanskrit instrumental construction. I doubt, however, that the Hindi _ne_ marker developed from the instrumental case ending of Sanskrit a-stems, at any rate directly, since it wouldn't agree with the sound-laws. There must have been some particle involved even if the _n_ is from the instrumental ending. Also the instrumental of Sanskrit nouns from other stem-classes doesn't have an _n_. /BP B.Philip. Jonsson <bpj@...> Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant (Tacitus) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------