Alignment and Ergativity in New Indo-Aryan Languages by Saartje Verbeke

By Saartje Verbeke

The booklet offers an outline of the alignment styles present in sleek Indo-Aryan languages. The research of the styles of case marking and contract ends up in a balanced view at the idea of ergativity and evaluates its worth for typological linguistics. The booklet deals an in depth dialogue of past methods to ergativity. It analyzes 4 Indo-Aryan languages - Asamiya, Nepali, Rajasthani and Kashmiri - at the foundation of textual content corpora. Examples from different Indo-Aryan languages also are adduced. The ebook is an intensive synchronic examine of alignment styles in Indo-Aryan languages.

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Example text

The process is as follows: free pronouns occurring close to the verb become bound to the verb form, become clitics (which have a relatively free position but can no longer be used independently) and ultimately become inflections (Corbett 2006: 75). Cross-linguistically, one may note the different stages in this development in different languages. There are languages that display free pronouns, person clitics or agreement suffixes (inflection), all indicating the person of an argument on the verb.

Whereas these authors refer to form-function units manifested in a paradigmatic way, Blake (2001: 1, and Croft 1988; Haspelmath 2009; Siewierska and Bakker 2009: 291, among many others) emphasizes the relations that cases express and claims that “case marks a relationship of a noun to a verb at the clause level, or of a noun to a preposition, postposition or another noun at the phrase level”. The relationship is one of semantic dependency in which case marks the dependent partner in the relation.

Hence, even the indirect object is not a universally identifiable category. In typology, Dryer’s successful argumentation that a cross-linguistic definition of a category is worthless if one cannot define the categories conclusively has led to the opinion that every notion of universal categories must be revaluated. For instance, Haspelmath (2010) follows Dryer and suggests a distinction between comparative concepts and descriptive categories. According to Haspelmath, descriptive categories are used to describe one particular language but are not a basis for cross-linguistic comparison.

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