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THEORY: Can Ditransitive Verbs Agree With More Than Two Core Arguments?

From:Tom Chappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Wednesday, May 18, 2005, 22:06
(1) Does anyone know of an attested NatLang with a productive system of agreement
or cross-reference on the verb in which some ditransitive verbs can, or
sometimes must, agree with each of both objects, in one or more of person,
number, gender or noun-class, and/or definiteness or specificity?

I read a comment in somebody's article to the effect that it is an absolute
universal that no verb is ever marked for agreement with more than two of its
core arguments/actants/participants. Is this really true? If it isn't, what's a

It does seem to be at least a statistical conditional universal that the less
case-marked an argument is, the more the verb is marked to agree with it (or
cross-reference it).

Combine that with the fact that, if there is a case whose mark is zero (an unmarked
case), it is the case that contains the only argument of the intransitive
clause: and we get the conclusion that in ergative monotransitive clauses the
verb agrees with the absolutive argument, but in accusative monotransitive
clauses the verb agrees with the nominative argument.


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Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>
Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>