Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Detail #359: An Ergative Language with Phrasal Verbs

In English, there are a bunch of object-like nouns (that under some analyses are objects), that are marked by prepositions. These occur with a variety of verbs, a handful of these could be, for instance
wait for
hope for
look at
listen to
Now, we could imagine a similar thing in a syntactically ergative language. In a syntactically ergative language, the syntactical subject is the absolutive argument, though, and we could imagine a situation whereby the ergative argument sometimes would be marked by some other case or some adposition. I am not sure whether this should even be considered quirky case 'subjects' (or 'quirky case ergatives', since the ergative is unlike both 'subjects' and 'objects' in this style of analysis.)

Here's a bit of a challenge though: think up some "ergatively phrasal verbs" that seem as natural as 'wait for' or 'look at' or 'think about'.

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