LINGUIST List 27.2014

Mon May 02 2016

Books: Deconstructing Ergativity: Polinsky

Editor for this issue: Sara Couture <saralinguistlist.org>


Date: 27-Jan-2016
From: Carolyn Napolitano <Carolyn.Napolitanooup.com>
Subject: Deconstructing Ergativity: Polinsky
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Title: Deconstructing Ergativity
Subtitle: Two Types of Ergative Languages and Their Features
Series Title: Oxford Studies in Comparative Syntax
Published: 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press
                http://www.oup.com/us

Book URL: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/deconstructing-ergativity-9780190256593

Author: Maria Polinsky
Paperback: ISBN: 9780190256593 Pages: 408 Price: U.S. $ 49.95
Abstract:

Nominative-accusative and ergative are two common alignment types found across languages. In the former type, the subject of an intransitive verb and the subject of a transitive verb are expressed the same way, and differently from the object of a transitive. In ergative languages, the subject of an intransitive and the object of a transitive appear in the same form, the absolutive, and the transitive subject has a special, ergative, form. Ergative languages often follow very different patterns, thus evading a uniform description and analysis. A simple explanation for that has to do with the idea that ergative languages, much as their nominative-accusative counterparts, do not form a uniform class. In this book, Maria Polinsky argues that ergative languages instantiate two main types, the one where the ergative subject is a prepositional phrase (PP-ergatives) and the one with a noun-phrase ergative. Each type is internally consistent and is characterized by a set of well-defined properties.

The book begins with an analysis of syntactic ergativity, which as Polinsky argues, is a manifestation of the PP-ergative type. Polinsky discusses diagnostic properties that define PPs in general and then goes to show that a subset of ergative expressions fit the profile of PPs. Several alternative analyses have been proposed to account for syntactic ergativity; the book presents and outlines these analyses and offers further considerations in support of the PP-ergativity approach. The book then discusses the second type, DP-ergative languages, and traces the diachronic connection between the two types.

The book includes two chapters illustrating paradigm PP-ergative and DP-ergative languages: Tongan and Tsez. The data used in these descriptions come from Polinsky's original fieldwork hence presenting new empirical facts from both languages.

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
                            Syntax
                            Typology

Subject Language(s): Dido (ddo)
                            Tonga (ton)

Written In: English (eng)

See this book announcement on our website:
http://linguistlist.org/pubs/books/get-book.cfm?BookID=97533


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