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Encyclopedia > Morphosyntactic alignment
Linguistic typology
Morphological
Analytic
Isolating
Synthetic
Fusional
Agglutinative
Polysynthetic
Oligosynthetic
Morphosyntactic
Alignment
Accusative
Ergative
Philippine
Active-stative
Tripartite
Inverse marking
Syntactic pivot
Theta role
Word Order
VO languages
Subject Verb Object
Verb Subject Object
Verb Object Subject
OV languages
Subject Object Verb
Object Subject Verb
Object Verb Subject
Time Manner Place
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In linguistics, morphosyntactic alignment is the system used to distinguish between the arguments of transitive verbs and those of intransitive verbs. The distinction can be made morphologically (through grammatical case or verbal agreement), syntactically (through word order), or both. Linguistic typology is the typology that classifies languages by their features. ... Morphological typology was developed by brothers Friedrich and August von Schlegel. ... An analytic language is any language where syntax and meaning are shaped more by use of particles and word order than by inflection. ... An isolating language is any language where the vast majority of morphemes are free morphemes and are considered to be full-fledged words, rather than particles that are agglutinated. ... A synthetic language, in linguistic typology, is a language with a high morpheme-per-word ratio. ... A fusional language (also called inflecting language) is a type of synthetic language, distinguished from agglutinative languages by its tendency to squish together many morphemes in a way which can be difficult to segment. ... It has been suggested that Agglutination be merged into this article or section. ... Polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i. ... Oligosynthetic (from the Greek ολίγοι, meaning few) is a hypothetical designation for a language using an extremely small array of morphemes, perhaps numbering only in the hundreds, which combine synthetically to form statements. ... Morphology is a subdiscipline of linguistics that studies word structure. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... An ergative-absolutive language (or simply ergative) is one that treats the agent of transitive verbs distinctly from the subject of intransitive verbs and the object of transitive verbs. ... An active language is one where the only argument of an intransitive verb (that is, the subject) is marked sometimes in the same way as the subject of a transitive verb, and some other times in the same way as the direct object of a transitive verb. ... A tripartite language is one that marks the agent, experiencer, and patient verb arguments each in different ways. ... A direct-inverse language is a language where clauses with transitive verbs can be expressed either using a direct or an inverse construction. ... The syntactic pivot is the verb argument around which sentences revolve, in a given language. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Thematic role. ... In linguistic typology, word order is the order in which words appear in sentences. ... In linguistics, a VO language is a language in which the verb typically comes before the object. ... In linguistic typology, subject-verb-object (SVO) is the sequence subject verb object in neutral expressions: Sam ate oranges. ... Verb Subject Object—commonly used in its abbreviated form VSO—is a term in linguistic typology. ... Verb Object Subject - commonly used in its abbreviated form VOS - is a term in Linguistic typology. ... In linguistics, an OV language is a language in which the object comes before the verb. ... In linguistic typology, Subject Object Verb (SOV) is the type of languages in which the subject, object, and verb of a sentence appear (usually) in that order. ... Object Subject Verb (OSV) is one of the permutations of expression used in Linguistic typology. ... Object Verb Subject (OVS) or Object Verb Agent (OVA) is one of the permutations of expression used in linguistic typology. ... Time Manner Place is a term used in linguistic typology to state the general order of adpositional phrases in a languages sentences: yesterday by car to the store. It is common among SOV languages. ... Place Manner Time is a term used in linguistic typology to state the general order of adpositional phrases in a languages sentences: to the store by car yesterday. It would seem that it is common among SVO languages. ... For the journal, see Linguistics (journal). ... A syntactic verb argument, in linguistics, is a phrase that appears in a relationship with the verb in a proposition. ... A transitive verb is a verb that requires both a subject and one or more objects. ... “Intransitive” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Morphology. ... In grammar, the case of a noun or pronoun indicates its grammatical function in a greater phrase or clause; such as the role of subject, of direct object, or of possessor. ... In languages, agreement is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. ... For other uses, see Syntax (disambiguation). ... In linguistic typology, word order is the order in which words appear in sentences. ...

Contents

Semantics and grammatical relations

Transitive verbs have two core arguments, which in a language like English are subject (A) and object (O). (The symbol P is sometimes used for the latter role.) Intransitive verbs have a single core argument, which in English is the subject (S). Note that while the grammatical role labels S, A, and O/P are originally short for "subject", "agent", and "object/patient", the concepts are distinct both from "subject" and "object" (the terms that S, A and O supersede) and from "Agent" and "patient" (which indicate semantic roles, not grammatical roles: an A need not be an agent, a O need not be a patient). According to a tradition that can be tracked back to Aristotle, every sentence can be divided in two main constituents, one being the subject of the sentence and the other being its predicate. ... An object in grammar is a sentence element and part of the sentence predicate. ...


Of the three types of core argument (S, A and O), different constructions within a language often treat two the same way and the third distinctly.

  1. Nominative-accusative alignment treats the S argument of an intransitive verb like the A argument of transitive verbs, with the O argument distinct (S = A; O separate) (see also Nominative-accusative language). In a language with morphological case marking, an S and an A may both be unmarked or marked with the nominative case, while the O is marked with an accusative case as occurs with nominative -us and accusative -um in Latin: Julius venit "Julius came"; Julius Brutum vidit "Julius saw Brutus". Languages with nominative-accusative alignment can detransitivize transitive verbs by demoting the A argument, and promoting the O to be an S (thus taking nominative case marking); this is called the passive voice.
  2. Ergative-absolutive alignment treats an intransitive argument like a transtive O argument (S=O; A separate) (see also Ergative-absolutive language). An A may be marked with an ergative case (sometimes formally the same as the genitive or instrumental case or some other oblique case), while the S argument of an intransitive verb and the O argument of a transitive verb are left unmarked or sometimes marked with an absolutive case. Ergative-absolutive languages can detransitivize transitive verbs by demoting the O and promoting the A to an S, thus taking the absolutive case; this is called the antipassive voice.
  3. Fluid (or semantic) alignment (see Active-stative languages) treats the arguments of some intransitive verbs in the same way as the A argument of transitives, and the single arguments of other intransitive verbs the same as transitive O arguments (Sa=A; So=O). The reason for assignment to one class or another usually has a straightforward semantic basis. For example, in Georgian, Mariamma imğera "Mary sang", shares the same narrative case ending as the transitive clause Mariamma c'erili dac'era "Mary wrote the letter", while in Mariami iq'o Tbilisši revolutsiamde "Mary was in Tbilisi up to the revolution", Mary shares the same case ending (-i) as the object in the transitive clause. Thus the class of intransitive is not uniform in its behavior. The particular criteria for assigning verbs to one class or the other vary from language to language, and may either be fixed lexically for each verb, or chosen by the speaker according to the degree of volition, control, or suffering of the verbal action by the participant, or the degree of sympathy the speaker has.
  4. The Austronesian languages of the Philippines, Borneo, Taiwan, and Madagascar are well known for having both alignments, called voices. These are the Austronesian-alignment or Philippine-type languages. The alignments are often misleadingly called "active" and "passive" voice, but both have two core arguments, so increasingly the terms such as "actor focus" or "agent trigger" are used for the accusative type, and "undergoer focus" or "patient trigger" for the ergative type. Undergoer focus is the default alignment in these languages. For either alignment two cases are used, but the same morphology is used for the nominative and the absolutive, so there is a total of just three core cases: nominative-absolutive (usually called nominative), ergative, and accusative. Many Austronesianists argue that these languages have four alignments, with voices that mark a locative or benefactive with the nominative case, but others believe that these are not basic to the system.

A very few languages make no distinction whatsoever between agent, patient, and intransitive arguments, leaving the hearer to rely entirely on context and common sense to figure them out. Some others, called tripartite languages, use a separate case or syntax for each argument, which are conventionally called the accusative case, the intransitive case, and the ergative case. Certain Iranian languages, such as Rushani, distinguish only transitivity, using a transitive case, for both A and O, and an intransitive case. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The nominative case is a grammatical case for a noun, which generally marks the subject of a verb, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments. ... The accusative case (abbreviated ACC) of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. ... In grammar, voice is the relationship between the action or state expressed by a verb, and its arguments (subject, object, etc. ... An ergative-absolutive language (or simply ergative) is one that treats the agent of transitive verbs distinctly from the subject of intransitive verbs and the object of transitive verbs. ... In ergative-absolutive languages, the ergative case identifies the subject of a transitive verb. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... In linguistics, the instrumental case (also called the eighth case) indicates that a noun is the instrument or means by which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action. ... In ergative-absolutive languages, the absolutive is the grammatical case used to mark both the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb. ... The antipassive voice is a verb voice found mostly in ergative languages. ... An active language is one where the only argument of an intransitive verb (that is, the subject) is marked sometimes in the same way as the subject of a transitive verb, and some other times in the same way as the direct object of a transitive verb. ... The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia. ... In grammar, the voice of a verb describes the relationship between the action (or state) that the verb expresses and the participants identified by its arguments (subject, object, etc. ... Austronesian alignment, commonly known as the Philippine- or Austronesian-type voice system, is a typologically unusual morphosyntactic alignment that combines features of ergative and accusative languages. ... Locative is a case which indicates a location. ... The benefactive case is a case used where English would use for, for the benefit of, or intended for. ... A tripartite language is one that marks the agent, experiencer, and patient verb arguments each in different ways. ... The accusative case (abbreviated ACC) of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. ... The tone of this article is inappropriate for an encyclopedia article. ... In ergative-absolutive languages, the ergative case identifies the subject of a transitive verb. ... The Iranian languages are a part of the Indo European language family. ...


Furthermore, a single language may use nominative-accusative and ergative-absolutive systems in different grammatical contexts, sometimes linked to animacy (Australian Aboriginal languages) or aspect (Mayan languages). This is called split ergativity.
Another popular idea (introduced by Anderson 1976[1]) is that some constructions universally favor accusative alignment while others are more flexible. In general, behavioral constructions (control, raising, relativization) are claimed to favor nominative-accusative alignment, while coding constructions (especially case constructions) do not show any alignment preferences. This idea underlies early notions of ‘deep’ vs. ‘surface’ (or ‘syntactic’ vs. ‘morphological’) ergativity (e.g. Comrie 1978[2]; Dixon 1994[3]): many languages have surface ergativity only, i.e. ergative alignments only in their coding constructions (like case or agreement) but not in their behavioral constructions, or at least not in all of them. Languages with deep ergativity, i.e. with ergative alignment in behavioral constructions, appear to be less common. Animacy is a grammatical category, usually of nouns, which influences the form a verb takes when it is associated with that noun. ... The Australian Aboriginal languages comprise several language families and isolates native to Australia and a few nearby islands, but by convention excluding Tasmania. ... In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb defines the temporal flow (or lack thereof) in the described event or state. ... “Maya language” redirects here. ... Split ergativity is shown by languages that have a partly ergative behaviour, but employ another syntax or morphology (usually accusative) in some contexts. ... In linguistics, argument control refers to syntactic principles that allow the semantic identity of a verbs argument to be determined even though it is not syntactically realized in the sentence. ... In linguistics, raising is a form of argument control in which an argument that belongs semantically to a subordinate clause is realized syntactically as a constituent of a higher clause. ... A relative clause is a subordinate clause that modifies a noun. ... An ergative-absolutive language (or simply ergative) is one that treats the agent of transitive verbs distinctly from the subject of intransitive verbs and the object of transitive verbs. ...


Ergative vs. accusative

Ergative languages contrast to nominative-accusative languages (such as English), which treat the objects of transitive verbs distinctly from other core arguments.


These different arguments can be symbolized as follows:

  • O = most patient-like argument of a transitive clause (also symbolized as P)
  • S = sole argument of an intransitive clause
  • A = most agent-like argument of a transitive clause

The S/A/O terminology avoids the use of terms like "subject" and "object", which are not stable concepts from language to language. Moreover, it avoids the terms "agent" and "patient", which are semantic roles which do not correspond consistently to particular arguments. For instance, the A might be an experiencer or a source, semantically, not just an agent. In linguistics, a grammatical agent is an entity that carries out an action. ...


The relationship between ergative and accusative systems can be schematically represented as the following:

  Ergative-absolutive Nominative-accusative
O same different
S same same
A different same

The following Basque examples demonstrate ergative-absolutive case marking system: Basque (native name: euskara) is the language spoken by the Basque people who inhabit the Pyrenees in North-Central Spain and the adjoining region of South-Western France. ...

Ergative Language
Sentence: Gizona etorri da.      Gizonak mutila ikusi du.
Words: gizona-∅ etorri da      gizona-k mutila-∅ ikusi du
Gloss: the.man-ABS has arrived      the.man-ERG boy-ABS saw
Function: S VERBintrans      A O VERBtrans
Translation: 'The man has arrived.'      'The man saw the boy.'

In Basque, gizona is "the man" and mutila is "the boy". In a sentence like mutila gizonak ikusi du, you know who's seeing whom because -k is always added to the one doing the seeing. So this means 'the man saw the boy'. To say 'the boy saw the man', just add the "-k" to the boy: mutilak gizona ikusi du.


With a verb like etorri "come" there's no need to tell "who's coming whom", so no -k is ever added. "The boy came" is 'mutila etorri da'.


To contrast with a nominative-accusative language, Japanese marks nouns with a different case marking:

Accusative Language
Sentence: Kodomo ga tsuita.      Otoko ga kodomo wo mita.
Words: kodomo ga tsuita      otoko ga kodomo wo mita
Gloss: child NOM arrived      man NOM child ACC saw
Function: S VERBintrans      A O VERBtrans
Translation: '(The) child arrived.'      '(The) man saw (the) child.'

In this language, in the sentence "man saw child", the one doing the seeing (man) may be marked with ga, which works like Basque "-k" (and the one who is seen may be marked with wo). However, in the sentences like the child arrived, where there's no need of telling "who arrived whom", there may be a ga. This is unlike Basque, where "-k" is completely forbidden in such sentences.


See also

Milewski's typology Milewski’s typology is a classification of languages proposed in the 1960s by the Polish linguist Tadeusz Milewski. ...


External links

  • Dave's Language Creation Notebook: Ergativity
  • Case Marking and Ergativity - an article on Jiwarli with a clear explanation of nominative-accusative, ergative-absolutive and tripartite systems

Jiwarli is an Australian Aboriginal language formerly spoken in Western Australia. ...

References

  1. ^ Anderson, Stephen. (1976). On the notion of subject in ergative languages. In C. Li. (Ed.), Subject and topic (pp. 1-24). New York: Academic Press.
  2. ^ omrie, Bernard. (1978). Ergativity. In W. P. Lehmann (Ed.), Syntactic typology: Studies in the phenomenology of language (pp. 329-394). Austin: University of Texas Press.
  3. ^ Dixon, R. M. W. (1994). Ergativity. Cambridge University Press.

Bibliography

  • Anderson, Stephen. (1976). On the notion of subject in ergative languages. In C. Li. (Ed.), Subject and topic (pp. 1-24). New York: Academic Press.
  • Anderson, Stephen R. (1985). Inflectional morphology. In T. Shopen (Ed.), Language typology and syntactic description: Grammatical categories and the lexicon (Vol. 3, pp. 150-201). Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.
  • Comrie, Bernard. (1978). Ergativity. In W. P. Lehmann (Ed.), Syntactic typology: Studies in the phenomenology of language (pp. 329-394). Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Dixon, R. M. W. (1979). Ergativity. Language, 55 (1), 59-138. (Revised as Dixon 1994).
  • Dixon, R. M. W. (Ed.) (1987). Studies in ergativity. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
  • Dixon, R. M. W. (1994). Ergativity. Cambridge University Press.
  • Foley, William; & Van Valin, Robert. (1984). Functional syntax and universal grammar. Cambridge University Press.
  • Kroeger, Paul. (1993). Phrase structure and grammatical relations in Tagalog. Stanford: CSLI.
  • Mallinson, Graham; & Blake, Barry J. (1981). Agent and patient marking. Language typology: Cross-linguistic studies in syntax (Chap. 2, pp. 39-120). North-Holland linguistic series. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company.
  • Plank, Frans. (Ed.). (1979). Ergativity: Towards a theory of grammatical relations. London: Academic Press.
  • Schachter, Paul. (1976). The subject in Philippine languages: Actor, topic, actor-topic, or none of the above. In C. Li. (Ed.), Subject and topic (pp. 491-518). New York: Academic Press.
  • Schachter, Paul. (1977). Reference-related and role-related properties of subjects. In P. Cole & J. Sadock (Eds.), Syntax and semantics: Grammatical relations (Vol. 8, pp. 279-306). New York: Academic Press.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Morphosyntactic alignment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1708 words)
In linguistics, morphosyntactic alignment is the system used to distinguish between the arguments of transitive verbs and intransitive verbs.
The particular criteria for assigning verbs to one class or the other vary from language to language, and may either be fixed lexically for each verb, or chosen by the speaker according to the degree of volition, control, or suffering of the verbal action by the participant, or the degree of sympathy the speaker has.
The alignments are often misleadingly called "active" and "passive" voice, but both have two core arguments, so increasingly the terms such as "actor focus" or "agent trigger" are used for the accusative type, and "undergoer focus" or "patient trigger" for the ergative type.
Alignment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (341 words)
Alignment is the adjustment of an object in relation with other objects, or a static orientation of some object or set of objects in relation to others.
Morphosyntactic alignment, in linguistics, the properties determining the grammatical relationship between verbal arguments of various kinds
In integrated circuit fabrication, alignment is the step in a photolithographic process in which a mask used to pattern a layer of the circuit is registered in its x-y position with respect to the wafer (usually silicon) on which the circuit is being formed.
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