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ERIC Number: ED132848
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1976-Aug
Pages: 28
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Historiography of Ergative.
Seely, Johnathan F.
This paper discusses the term "ergative" and traces the history of this and related terms and concepts in descriptive linguistics. Early attempts at defining the ergative illustrate the preoccupation with its supposedly passive nature. Other questions include the simple identification of the ergative, co-occurring cases, supposed ergative pasts of nominative-accusative languages, histories of ergative languages, and various types of ergativity. In the West, interest in the ergative was accompanied by confusion with the "absolutive" or "nominative" case and the "neutral" case. Another prevalent idea was that the ergative was causative in nature. Still another association was that of ergative languages with primitive cultures and inferior mentalities. This in turn led to the belief that language evolved from ergative-absolutive to nominative-accusative. As one possible solution to the confusion accompanying the concept of ergative, the term "near ergative" or "semantic ergative" is suggested for languages in which the "subject" case is semantically determined. In turn this semantic ergative may be split according to certain syntactic criteria. (AM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A