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ERIC Number: ED112704
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1974
Pages: 59
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Ergativity in Caucasian Languages.
Catford, J. C.
The ergative construction is characteristic of all 37 languages of the Caucasian group. After definition of "subject" and "object," a summary is given of 13 Caucasian intransitive and transitive sentence-types, with respect to the case forms of their subjects and objects. The principal "symptoms" of ergativity are: (1) subject in an oblique (ergative) case; (2) object in the nominative (or absolutive) case; (3) verb agrees in class and/or person and number with the object; and (4) in N.W. Caucasian only, pronominal prefixes in the sequence O-S-V. Numerous deviations are discussed. Arguments are presented against the once-popular view that the ergative construction is "really" a passive construction. In the N. Caucasian languages, the ergative transitive construction systematically contrasts with a nominative transitive construction (subject in nominative, object in nominative or oblique case). The ergative construction highlights the effect of the verbally expressed activity on the object; the nominative construction highlights the activity of the subject. Ergativity in all ergative languages can be classified as Functional (i.e., in meaningful contrast with a non-ergative transitive construction), as in N. Caucasian, Chukot-Kamchadal, Eskimo-Aleut, or Formal (i.e., as a mere obligatory formal feature of transitive sentences), as in Georgian and the Iranian, Dardic, and Indic ergative languages. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A