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By Maria Polinsky

Nominative-accusative and ergative are universal alignment forms stumbled on throughout languages. within the former kind, the topic of an intransitive verb and the topic of a transitive verb are expressed a similar method, and another way from the thing of a transitive. In ergative languages, the topic of an intransitive and the item of a transitive look within the similar shape, the absolutive, and the transitive topic has a unique, ergative, shape. Ergative languages usually stick with very various styles, therefore evading a uniform description and research. an easy cause of that has to do with the concept that ergative languages, a lot as their nominative-accusative opposite numbers, don't shape a uniform classification. during this publication, Maria Polinsky argues that ergative languages instantiate major forms, the only the place the ergative topic is a prepositional word (PP-ergatives) and the only with a noun-phrase ergative. each one kind is internally constant and is characterised via a suite of well-defined homes.

The booklet starts off with an research of syntactic ergativity, which as Polinsky argues, is a manifestation of the PP-ergative kind. Polinsky discusses diagnostic houses that outline PPs normally after which is going to teach subset of ergative expressions healthy the profile of PPs. a number of substitute analyses were proposed to account for syntactic ergativity; the publication offers and descriptions those analyses and gives additional concerns in help of the PP-ergativity method. The publication then discusses the second one variety, DP-ergative languages, and strains the diachronic connection among the 2 varieties.

The ebook contains chapters illustrating paradigm PP-ergative and DP-ergative languages: Tongan and Tsez. the knowledge utilized in those descriptions come from Polinsky's unique fieldwork consequently featuring new empirical evidence from either languages.

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Additional info for Deconstructing ergativity: two types of ergative languages and their features

Sample text

Both left-​dislocation strategies are observed in English (cf. Prince 1981; Gregory and Michaelis 2001 for examples). In the examples below, the initial constituent in (15) is viewed as dislocated from its base position as a result of A-​bar movement. In (16), however, this initial constituent is base-​generated in its left-​periphery position and is linked to its clause-​internal position via interpretive mechanisms that are much freer than the mechanisms operating in syntax. In principle, any element can be base-​generated as an external topic and co-​indexed with clause-​internal material lower in the structure.

Thus, the presence of the ergative depends on the availability of the absolutive, but not vice versa; likewise, the presence of the accusative depends on the availability of the nominative. The main idea behind this proposal is that case realization is subject to a number of different constraints and follows a markedness hierarchy of the following nature: (19) lexically specified (“quirky”) case > dependent case > unmarked (obligatory) case For now, let us just note that, for both the ergative and accusative cases, their assignment is contingent on the presence of another case.

These strategies include: resumption, antipassivization, agent focus, anti-​agreement, and the use of nominalizations. The resumption strategy was illustrated by the Tongan examples above; see especially example (9) above. We will also see this option at work in some Mayan languages (discussed in ­chapter 4). Another strategy is to first turn the ergative subject into an absolutive (retaining its subjecthood) and then extract it. This switch from ergative (transitive subject) to absolutive (intransitive subject) reflects a pattern that we will see recurring throughout this book: the behavior of transitive subjects differs from the behavior of intransitive subjects with respect to a number of properties.

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