• A
  • A
  • A
  • АБB
  • АБB
  • АБB
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
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Syntactic ergativity

The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, 2018.

Linguists have long classified languages according to the ways in which their intransitive subjects, transitive subjects, and direct objects align with respect to case marking and/or agreement. The two main divisions are known as the (nominative–)accusative and ergative(–absolutive) alignments.  Under an accusative alignment pattern, the intransitive subject (abbreviated here as S) and the transitive subject (A: for agent, or agent-like argument) are encoded the same way (nominative), while the transitive direct object (O) is encoded separately (accusative). Under an ergative alignment pattern, on the other hand, S and O have identical encoding (absolutive) while A has its own separate case (ergative); see Comrie (1978); Dixon (1979; 1994); Manning (1996); Aldridge (2008); McGregor (2009); among others. These alignments can be expressed not only through case marking but also through agreement; S and A may determine the same agreement, in contrast to O, or S and O may license the same agreement, in contrast to A.

Syntactic ergativity