Deconstructing ergativity: two types of ergative languages by Maria Polinsky

By Maria Polinsky

Nominative-accusative and ergative are universal alignment forms stumbled on throughout languages. within the former variety, the topic of an intransitive verb and the topic of a transitive verb are expressed an analogous means, and otherwise from the article of a transitive. In ergative languages, the topic of an intransitive and the item of a transitive seem within the related shape, the absolutive, and the transitive topic has a different, ergative, shape. Ergative languages frequently keep on with very various styles, therefore evading a uniform description and research. an easy reason behind that has to do with the concept ergative languages, a lot as their nominative-accusative opposite numbers, don't shape a uniform type. during this ebook, Maria Polinsky argues that ergative languages instantiate major forms, the single the place the ergative topic is a prepositional word (PP-ergatives) and the only with a noun-phrase ergative. each one variety is internally constant and is characterised by way of a collection of well-defined houses.

The publication starts off with an research of syntactic ergativity, which as Polinsky argues, is a manifestation of the PP-ergative sort. Polinsky discusses diagnostic homes that outline PPs more often than not 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 aid of the PP-ergativity method. The booklet then discusses the second one variety, DP-ergative languages, and strains the diachronic connection among the 2 varieties.

The booklet comprises chapters illustrating paradigm PP-ergative and DP-ergative languages: Tongan and Tsez. the knowledge utilized in those descriptions come from Polinsky's unique fieldwork accordingly offering new empirical proof from either languages.

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Extra resources for Deconstructing ergativity: two types of ergative languages and their features

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The salient comparative fact is as follows: if we were to select a random sample of thirty-​plus accusative languages from across the world, the number of those languages that showed restrictions on the extraction of the accusative would be very small, and such languages would in general be hard to find. This discrepancy alone makes the pervasive nature of syntactic ergativity puzzling. The final numbers may not be identical to what I report here, but there is clearly a sizeable cohort of morphologically ergative languages that behave like Tongan rather than Basque: they allow the extraction of the absolutive with a gap, but their ergative argument is inaccessible to A-​bar movement in general, or at least to some subtypes of A-​bar movement.

Juani quiere [que _​_ *i/​k se vaya]. ’ b. Juani no Juan neg cree [que _​_ i/​k se vaya]. ’ c. Juani no quiere [que _​_ *i/​k crea Juan neg wants comp [que __ i/​k believe comp se vaya]]. ’ Given the significant observed differences between different types of silent elements, it is unclear how much can be gained by collapsing all of these elements into one group. Certainly, we stand to lose important structural distinctions when we disregard the smaller details of individual structures and of different types of silence.

It matters because it seems widespread among morphologically ergative languages. And it matters because it offers an intriguing contrast between two dependent cases, the ergative and the accusative. 1 Syntactic ergativity broadly def ined As I already mentioned, the interpretation of syntactic ergativity adopted for the purposes is this book is restricted, and refers specifically to the inability of the ergative argument to be extracted with a gap under A-​bar movement. Other researchers view syntactic ergativity as a broad phenomenon, so an explanation for my adoption of a notably narrower understanding of this phenomenon is in order.

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