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

From:R. Skrintha <srik@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 21, 1998, 8:43

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.
It is indeed true of Hindi, and applies to past clauses (I don't know the other IA languages well enough). For example: Raam ne usko dekhaa Raam ERG it-ACC saw 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. Btw, there are some ergative-like sentences also for perceptional/mental verbs/emotional verbs, wherein the ergative function is supplied by the formal dative case: mujhe yah maloom hai me-DAT this known is "I know this" Similarly, in Tamil, too: enakku itu teriyum me-DAT this known "I know this" Regards, skrintha