Verb Agreement and Case Marking in Burushaski

Stephen R. Willson

This is a duplicate entry that has been withdrawn. Access to the PDF is available here:


Burushaski verb agreement and case marking phenomena are complex and have not been described adequately by any current theory of syntax. In particular, no explanation has yet been given as to why a variety of nominals can trigger agreement in the verbal prefix. In some cases the apparent subject triggers this agreement, in others the direct object appears to do so, in others the indirect object, in others the possessor of the direct object, in others a benefactive or source nominal. Also, the constraints on the usage of ergative, absolutive and oblique case, and other indicators of grammatical relations on nominals, has been insufficiently characterized in the literature on Burushaski.

In this thesis I attempt to provide an adequate account of these facts from the perspective of the syntactic framework known as Relational Grammar. Central to this framework is the notion of primitive (undefined) grammatical relations that nominals bear in a clause, such as 'subject of', 'direct object of', 'indirect object of' and others. Of equal importance is the notion of multiple syntactic levels at which nominals may bear these relations. A given nominal may bear more than one grammatical relation at different levels in a clause. These notions provide the tools necessary to define the rich set of syntactic clausal constructions used in Burushaski, such as passive, 3-2 advancement, inversion, antipassive, possessor ascension and others. They also make it possible to state verb agreement and case marking rules in a concise and meaningful way.