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Ergative (was: Conlang digest, etc.)

From:Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 25, 2004, 8:14
Yes, that's excellently re-written :-)

As to the Icelanders, they are nothing else than
Middle Age Norwegians, so it looks natural that if
Norwegian language didn't use ergative (or maybe lost
it long ago already), there isn't any ergative in
Icelandic neither. It seems that the general tendency
is *loosing* the ergative concept, not acquiring it.

I don't intend to mean that ergative is definitely
sentenced to death. Maybe it is so in our current
period (some thousands of years). Maybe it is cyclic,
and the next period will see a renaissance for the
ergative all over the world. But I'm afraid I'll be
dead then.

--- John Quijada <jq_ithkuil@...> wrote:
> > -------- > Perhaps there's a better way to put Phillipe's > question: Isn't it curious > that most ergative languages (with the exception of > Hindi) appear to occur > in cultures that have historically shown extreme > cultural homogeneity and > cultural isolation, whether through physical > inaccessibility (e.g., the > Dagestanian languages of the Caucausus, Tonganese, > Burushaski, etc.), or a > strong sense of cultural identity, lack of > dispersion from their homeland > or adherence to a traditional way of life (e.g., > Basque, Georgian, the > Paleo-Siberian languages)? After all, look at the > Australian languages, > most of which are traditionally ergative but have > begun showing > rapid "breakdown" into accusative patterning in the > speech of the last two > or three generations as Western cultural contact > undermines their > traditional societies (as noted in some of Lakoff's > writings where he > quotes Dixon). > > --John Quijada
===== Philippe Caquant "Le langage est source de malentendus." (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Mail SpamGuard - Read only the mail you want.