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"