Thursday, October 9, 2014

Detail #103: A very limited split ergativity

Imagine a language with a fairly regular nominative-accusative alignment, which takes an odd turn with verbs of movement. Verbs of movement have an ergative case, and for them, the nominative serves more as an absolutive case.

Jeten.nom see.3sg Igar.acc = Jeten sees Igar
Jeten.nom sing.3sg = Jeten sings
Kuwan.nom walk.3sg = Kuwan walks 
Kuwan.erg  walk.3sg bag.nom = Kuwan carries the bag
Diraj.nom return.3sg = Diraj returns
Diraj.erg return.3sg car.nom = Diraj returns the car
Accusatives of course appear somewhat randomly instead of nominatives on occasion, and this kind of performance mistake is slowly leading the language into a more classical accusative alignment, although with a specific subject case for verbs of movement - losing the distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs of movement. Meanwhile, there's a slight tendency for the ergative marker - "-gri" - to be prefixed to the verb instead and parsed as a causative morpheme for verbs of movement.

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