Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session




From the introduction: "Ergativity has long been an important topic in linguistic research, from both a typological (Comrie 1978, Dixon 1979, Plank 1979) as well as a theoretical perspective (Levin 1983, Marantz 1984). The purpose of the present study is to contribute to the discussion of this phenomenon via a study of a fragment of the grammar of Karitiana, an Amazon language, focusing especially on its ergative-absolutive marking of affirmative particles and personal pronouns. The special features of the Karitiana (henceforth K) system are: (1) only absolutive marking need be stated by rule, ergative case being a default mechanism, and (2) K's ergative marking offers interesting evidence in favor of the distinction between topicalization and WH-movement, along the lines first proposed by Chomsky (1977)."

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