More on pidgins descended from ergative languages

David Robertson drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG
Mon Mar 15 16:24:44 UTC 1999


Thanks to Manny and Sally for very thought-provoking messages.

So is there a pidgin, or creole, anywhere in the world that has (had)
ergativity in its grammar?

I'm somewhat familiar with several different p/c languages, and haven't
seen a trace of ergativity myself either.

With many other linguists, I am inclined to see p/c genesis as a potential
ontogenetic mirror for the phylogeny of human language(s).  Thus it would
be of much interest to see that these languages consistently exhibit a
certain (accusative-nominative) grammar to the exclusion of ergative-
absolutive grammar.

I would guess, then, that accusativity is "less marked" universally than
ergativity -- frequent though the latter is in the world's languages.

We have good descriptions of many p/c languages, so we know to a great
extent what these languages *are*.  It may be illuminating to conduct the
thought experiment:  What are they *not*?


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