Subject, Voice and Ergativity: Selected Essays

Aldridge argues that Malagasy Austronesian also has two transitive frames, which reflect its intermediate stage on a continuum of re-analysis from a fully ergative — to a fully accusative — aligned language. I begin this section with a brief recap of Samoan case markers: I treat absolutive as a structural case, assigned by T 0 to the closest DP with unvalued case, just as is nominative case see Koopman A summary is given in Table 1.

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At least since Burzio , it has been claimed that assignment of accusative case to an object is dependent upon assignment of a theta role by a predicate to its subject. Conversely, accusative case is unavailable in a sentence which lacks a thematic subject see Marantz If no external argument is introduced i. External arguments, whether transitive subjects 48a or unergative subjects 48b , also receive this same structural case from T 0 — the only difference being that accusative case is not assigned in unergative constructions if no object is present.

Recall also from section 2. As for the second, more familiar Samoan transitive case frame — ergative-absolutive — two questions arise: And second, why does it differ? What is the function of a second transitive case pattern? Here, I expand on a proposal by Massam ; to appear for the related language Niuean see also Polinsky ; Tollan Massam claims that unergative subjects are structurally lower than ergatives. Ergative subjects — proto-high agents — are introduced by a higher thematic head, namely Voice 0.

The additional phrasal structure of ERG-ABS constructions corresponds to the additional properties encompassed by ergative proto-high agents in 39a which distinguish them from proto-low agents in 39b , namely iii through vii either all of these properties, or a subset of them. Recall that properties i and ii characterize both high and low agents. As such, i and ii are contributed by v 0 , while iii through vii are contributed by Voice 0. This is illustrated in 50 and in Table 2. The partition of v P and VoiceP is well-established in the literature: Both Massam ; to appear and the present analysis differ, however, by arguing that both split heads are responsible for introducing different types of external arguments.

I further demonstrate how the difference between arguments introduced by v 0 and those introduced by Voice 0 may result in split case patterning. Case assignment in Samoan high transitives is shown — with relevant movement — in Spec-Head ergative case is assigned by Voice to the external argument in its specifier i.

1 Introduction

Baker, Mark and Jonathan Bobaljik. Here, I expand on a proposal by Massam ; to appear for the related language Niuean see also Polinsky ; Tollan Following the Spec-Head ergative approach prima facie , this suggests that they are not merged in the specifier of v P or at least, not an ergative case-assigning v P. This type of analysis is not without precedent: The discourse basis of ergativity.

The internal argument raises out of VP into the lower specifier of v P note crucially however that it is not merged in this position , and receives absolutive case from T 0. The transitive subject does not act as an intervener between T 0 and the internal argument in VP, since it has already been licensed as ergative by Voice 0 ; I assume, following Legate ; , Aldridge , and Coon et al.

Crucially, because high external arguments are not merged in v P, v 0 has no accusative case feature, and the object receives absolutive case from T 0. Voice 0 assigns Spec-Head ergative to a high external argument, and T 0 checks structural absolutive case on any remaining argument. That is, accusative case is available on a VP-external thematic head e. The merge of a VP-external argument higher in the thematic domain i. These verbs may also pattern as ERG-ABS 52b, 53b , but require the addition of the suffix —C i a in which the initial consonant and high vowel are determined based on phonotactics to do so.

Under the analysis in section 5. It should be noted, however, that this type of derivation is not fully productive, applying only to a minority of middle verbs. It is also worth noting that —C i a functions as a passive suffix in nominative-accusative Polynesian languages e. The causer is marked ergative and the causee absolutive.

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When added to middle ABS-ACC patterning verbs, the causer is ergative, the causee absolutive, and object accusative; no other case pattern is acceptable Furthermore, the presence of an accusative object in 56b demonstrates that ergative- and accusative-marked arguments indeed do co-occur. The structure of 56b is shown below. Comrie characterizes causative marking as increasing the valency of a predicate by one argument. This prediction is indeed borne out: As discussed earlier, Samoan exhibits VOS word order with bare objects, as in 61b.

This is known as Pseudo-Noun Incorporation Massam b. The subject of a PNI construction is absolutive; the object appears with no determiner or case marking, 30 and is interpreted as indefinite and non-specific Chung They fail to raise out of VP prior to VP fronting, thereby appearing adjacent to the verb, as illustrated below. Raising out of VP — to v P — allows for the object to escape existential closure, which would ensue if it were to remain VP-internal Diesing In the context of the current paper, an important observation to be noted is that PNI i.

Unergatives are different: Two types of transitivity in Samoan

In this section, I discuss how this may be dealt with within the current approach; first, why the subject of a PNI predicate is always an absolutive proto-low agent as opposed to a proto-high agent, and second, how the relationship between agent and theme is instantiated in the syntax. Of the properties of proto-high agents listed in 39 , five distinguish them from low agents: Under the current proto-role approach, PNI subjects are mapped as low agents; thus, they must lack some or all of these properties, by contrast with non-PNI subjects.

I suggest that the distinction lies with properties a- iii , a- iv , and a- vii: While these are situated as properties of a proto-agent, they are also necessarily influenced by the nature of the theme, as opposed to being determined by the agent alone. Regarding iii and iv , it is not immediately obvious how the agent of a PNI construction, such as le fafine in 61b , should necessarily be less affecting, or cease to cause a change in state, as compared with its non-PNI counterpart cf.

Rather, the distinction between affectedness in PNI and non-PNI constructions concerns the nature of the relationship between the affecting agent and the affected theme. Specifically, a quantized, referential entity in the present context, a non-incorporated, full DP object is individuated, while a non-quantized, non-referential entity i. Regarding a- vii , events denoted by PNI predicates lack discernible endpoints; thus, the low agent of a PNI construction initiates the relevant event, but does not bring that event to its conclusion.

However, event telicity has long been recognised to depend on the properties of the theme e. Thus, PNI predicates are necessarily atelic because they do not comprise a quantized theme. By this reasoning, it the absence of properties iii , iv , and vii which fundamentally determine the mapping of a PNI subject to the proto-low agent role. On the one hand, no agent can hold these properties unless the theme argument also meets the relevant criteria: On the other hand, properties iii , iv , vii are not wholly determined by the theme: As evidenced by many examples in earlier sections, proto-low agents do not only appear with predicates in which the object lacks such properties see, among other examples, the pairs in 40, 41 , in which the object is the same in both a and b sentences.

I turn now to the issue of how this agent-theme relationship is instantiated in the syntax. To recap from earlier discussion: In this case, the subject may be either a proto-low or proto-high agent, depending on a number of parameters. Conversely, pseudo-incorporated objects are semantically non-referential, and non-specific. PNI objects are realized as NPs i. Subjects of PNI constructions are always mapped as proto-low agents merged in v P bearing absolutive case.

Here I discuss the structural instantiation of this. In the thematic domain, the merge of VoiceP — the thematic projection which introduces a proto-high agent, bearing ergative case — appears to be contingent upon the syntax of the lower argument. Object movement — to the specifier of v P — is required if VoiceP is to be merged. Conversely, object movement does not require the merge of Voice 0: To account for this, I draw upon a proposal by Hale and Keyser , aimed at explaining causative-inchoative alternations in terms of asymmetries in lexical structure.

Specifically, Hale and Keyser note that certain verbs, such as sink 62a can undergo transitivity alternations, while others, such as sparkle 62b , cannot. Hale and Keyser propose that the asymmetry between a and b is due to a difference in the structure forming possibilities of the lexical roots sink and sparkle.

The difference between sink and sparkle lies in whether the root requires the projection of a specifier: Crucially, only if the verbal projection contains a specifier can further verbal structure be merged labelled here as V 2 ; this is potentially a causative light v head. As such, the V 1 maximal projection in b must combine directly with its single DP argument e. Expanding this principle from the lexical domain to the VP-external event domain, 32 we can explain from a structure building perspective why the high agent-introducing thematic head — namely VoiceP — is not merged in PNI constructions: The unattested derivation is one in which VoiceP is merged, but the specifier of v P is empty, as in Only if the specifier of v P is filled — either by a raised internal argument as in any high transitive or by a merged low external argument e.

This is characterized below in Note, however, that 65 is not a bi-conditional: VoiceP is not present in low transitives, despite movement of the internal argument i. The merge of an agent in VoiceP, is hereby ultimately determined by the properties of the agent, but is concurrently dependent on the properties of the lower argument. The various clause types and patterns of case assignment are summarized Table 3. The main claim of this paper is that Samoan exhibits two external argument positions, which results in two transitive case frames.

Crucially, unergative subjects are merged lower than ergative subjects see also Massam ; to appear: In this final section before concluding, I address some of the wider theoretical issues and typological predictions raised by this proposal.

What is the potential range of cross-linguistic variation? Are unergative subjects merged lower than transitive subjects in all languages? In contrast to Samoan, for example, Niuean does not allow inanimate ergative agents Massam , suggesting that inanimate agents cannot be mapped to the proto-high role in Niuean. Looking beyond Polynesian, different variants of the ergative alignment pattern are observed. Unaccusative subjects and direct objects surface as absolutive. This suggests that active languages do not make the same syntactic distinction between high and low agents that is evident in Samoan: This is precisely what we find in Basque: One final typological puzzle remains.

So far, nothing in the theory presented here explicitly rules out a language with a split v P structure in which v 0 and Voice 0 both assign a uniquely marked Spec-Head case, as in To my knowledge, no such language has ever been reported. Why should such a typological gap arise, if the grammar allows the option to merge transitive and unergative subjects in different positions? The reason for the absence of 68 may lie partially beyond the realm of the narrow syntax. Ergative alignments are, according to Du Bois, a grammatical manifestation of universal discourse preferences: Intransitive subjects are much more widespread than transitive subjects; Du Bois relatedly observes in a corpus study that intransitive clauses are more prevalent than transitive clauses.

Given these preferences, it is unsurprising that intransitive subjects are most commonly unmarked cross-linguistically. Since unergative verbs are for the most part intransitive, there would be no usage-based motivation for a language to develop a grammar which would license them in a unique way, especially if they could be licensed by another means e. Considering also the properties of proto-low agents as compared with proto-high agents, high agents have several distinctive featural properties which low agents lack i. By contrast with high agents and patients, there is nothing inherently distinctive at all about low agents: The other two features b- iii and b- iv can be characterized as defaults to denote the lack of properties typical of either high agents i.

In this paper, I propose that unergative subjects in Samoan are structurally lower than ergative subjects, building upon an observation that adding an object to an unergative verb does not yield an ERG-ABS case frame; instead, an ABS - i pattern arises. This case pattern is found in another construction: In view of this, I propose that Samoan has two transitive case frames and two external argument positions: Unergative and middle subjects are introduced by v 0 , while ergative subjects are merged in VoiceP.

While absolutive subjects tend only to initiate or experience an event, ergative-marked subjects typically possess several additional properties, notably volition, effortfulness, cause of a change in state, effect upon another participant, and conclusion of the event. Proto-high agents possess a number of additional properties: These additional properties given to high agents by their selecting verbs constitute more phrasal structure. Turning to the syntax of case marking, I proposed in section 5. When a proto-low agent is merged in v P, v 0 is endowed with a structural accusative case feature, which is realised upon the internal argument as prenominal i , yielding an ABS-ACC case frame.

The ergative-absolutive pattern is hereby derived from additional phrasal structure which is not present in a non-ergative configuration. More broadly speaking, this paper provides further arguments in favour of a split between v P and VoiceP e. This treatment of unergatives illustrates how lack of ergative case on unergative subjects need not pose a problem for an inherent approach to ergative case as is claimed by Baker and Bobaljik Other data are drawn from existing syntactic literature.

Abbreviations for sources are: Because nothing crucial in the present paper hinges on the identity of this node, I follow Collins in using the neutral label of FP. This captures the VOS word order of Tagalog object shift see e. The landing site of a moved object is a possible point of parametric variation across languages, which is to my knowledge largely unexplored, although Longenbaugh and Polinsky provide evidence from quantifier float in French that shifted objects also target the lower v P specifier in Romance languages.

The nature of this variation remains to be explored. In such cases, the locative objects behave more like direct objects, although I leave the question of their grammatical status aside for future research. This is a potential source of variation which requires further research. In Polynesian, constructions such as those of 42—3 are typically analysed as involving raising e.

Indication that a proleptic analysis is not appropriate for Samoan is the impossibility of a pronoun at the gap site, which is licit both in Madurese prolepsis see Davies In Samoan, however, the constriction is judged as completely unacceptable if a pronoun is inserted in the lower clause. Goodall , for example, draws attention to several languages in which accusative case appears on the single argument of a passive, despite the purported absence of an external subject.

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Subject, Voice and Ergativity [N Bennett] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. First Published in Routledge is an imprint of Taylor. DIATHESES AND VOICES IN MODERN JAPANESE1. 19 SUBJECT TOPIC AND TAGALOG SYNTAX. Subject, Voice and Ergativity: Selected Essays.

I view accusative as a conditional case feature in the sense of Collins Nonetheless, movement of accusative-marked objects is also evident in languages in which VP-fronting does not take place such that movement is more transparent ; for example, Gribanova If Voice 0 does not introduce an external argument, it has neither of these case values and the theme receives either accusative case from v 0 if a low external argument is merged , or absolutive case from T 0.

If we are to assume that VoiceP is universally phasal, then the absolutive object in 51 must move to the phase edge in order to be visible to T 0. One way of achieving this is to assume that such movement takes place covertly in VSO constructions such as 51 , and conversely results in VOS word order when overt, as proposed by Tollan and Clemens for Tongan. This could be achieved via a head lowering operation, as proposed in Collins An alternative approach would involve raising of the — Cia suffix at LF in accordance with the Stray Affix Filer Lasnik , in much the same way that English tense markers are proposed to attach to the main verb.

In English, this is achieved by affix lowering; in Samoan, however, the main VP raises, meaning that a stray verbal affix must also undergo raising. Thanks to a reviewer for bringing this issue to my attention. See Massam for a similar analysis of the Niuean causative morpheme faka. In other languages, however, ergative marking is retained even when the object has undergone incorporation e.

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I am extremely grateful to Kuinivia Seiloa and Efi Leniu for their patience and generosity as Samoan language consultants. All errors are my own. Talk presented at Austronesian Languages and Linguistics 4. From ergative case marking to semantic case marking: The case of historical Basque.

Ergativity and word order in Austronesian languages. Antipassive in Austronesian alignment change. Origins, nature, outcomes , — Antipassive and ergativity in Tagolog. The properties of anticausatives cross-linguistically. In Mara Frascarelli ed. Ergatives move too early: On an instance of opacity in syntax. Baker, Mark and Jonathan Bobaljik. On inherent and dependent theories of ergative case. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory The structural determination of case and agreement. The interaction of prosody and syntax in Samoan focus marking. Exclusives, equatives and prosodic phrases in Samoan.

Chen, Victoria and Shin Fukuda. In Henrison Hsieh ed. Case marking and grammatical relations in Polynesian. University of Texas Press. Aspects of Proto-Polynesian syntax. Linguistic Society of New Zealand. The morphosyntax of Samoan ergativity handout.

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Talk presented at Syntax and Semantics Circle. Samoan predicate initial word order and object positions. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 35 1. Causatives and universal grammar. Transactions of the Philological Society , 1— The Cia suffix as a passive marker in Samoan. Oceanic Linguistics 35 1. Aspects of split ergativity. Split ergativity is not about ergativity. The role of case in A-bar extraction asymmetries: Linguistic Variation 14 2.

Some thoughts on agentivity. Journal of Linguistics 9. Madurese prolepsis and its implications for a typology of raising. Ergative case and the transitive subject: A view from Nez Perce. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 28 1. Thematic proto-roles and argument selection. Du Bois, John W. The discourse basis of ergativity. Ergativity in discourse and grammar. In Roumyana Slabakova and Paula Kempchinsky eds. On case and the passive morpheme. Case, agreement, and differential subject marking in Uzbek nominalized clauses. On the anti-locality of movement dependencies.

On argument structure and the lexical expression of syntactic relations. A festschrift for Sylvain Bromberger , 53— External arguments and the mirror principle: On the distinctness of Voice and v. Person and number in pronouns: Transitivity in grammar and discourse. University of Toronto Ph. Samoan ergatives as double passives. The cartography of syntactic structures , — Severing the external argument from its verb. Learn more about Amazon Prime. First Published in Read more Read less. Prime Book Box for Kids. Routledge; 1 edition September 20, Language: Be the first to review this item Amazon Best Sellers Rank: Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video.

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