Case and Agreement in Inuit by Reineke BOK-Bennema

By Reineke BOK-Bennema

The structure of the human language school has been one of many major foci of the linguistic examine of the final part century. This department of linguistics, greatly often called Generative Grammar, is worried with the formula of explanatory formal bills of linguistic phenomena with the ulterior target of gaining perception into the homes of the 'language organ'. The sequence contains top of the range monographs and picked up volumes that tackle such concerns. the themes during this sequence variety from phonology to semantics, from syntax to details constitution, from mathematical linguistics to reports of the lexicon.

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Thus, for instance, the transitive inflection on the verb agrees in person and number with the ergative NP, in the same way as this happens with its nominative counterpart in the imperfective, while there is object agreement with the theme (cf. the glosses in (49a) and (50)). Another argument is that the nominative NP of the perfective can be reflexive, in which case it has to be coreferential with the ergative NP, cf. (51). (51) Vanom daircmuna tavisi tavi Vano-erg convince-aorist,3sg3 own self-nom 'Vano convinced himself' G,H:41 The fact that the direct object NPs in the perfective are nominative can be explained by the assumptions that 1) perfective morphology blocks the accusative-assigning properties of transitive verbs and 2) INFL assigns nominative to the direct object (for example by chain-government).

This implies, of course, that the subject position has to be empty and that the thematic role that is normally assigned to this position is 'absorbed'. 6) If the core of our analysis - which is the same as that assumed in Payne (1980) - is correct, we again have an instance of ergativity that arises because no Case is available for a direct object position. We should mention here that according to Payne there are indications that in several Indo-Iranian languages the stage as described for Old Persian subsequently developed into a stage in which the perfect tenses manifested a morphologically ergative pattern, in the sense that in transitive structures the genitive became the structural subject and the nominative the structural direct object.

We have shown that, apart from Dyirbal, all ergative languages are of the morphological type, which means that in these languages the absolutive NP occurring with transitive verbs functions as the D- and S-structure direct object, while the ergative NP has the subject function. The Inuit languages form no exception in this respect. An argument for the subject status of the ergative NP (the agent) was the fact that the NP that was ergative in finite clauses appeared as PRO in non-finite clauses.

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