Ergativity, or traces of it, in N.Am. pidgins?

David Robertson drobert at TINCAN.TINCAN.ORG
Tue Mar 16 06:56:26 UTC 1999

LhaXayEm, qhata mEsayka?

Na hay tEmtEm wEXt ukuk:  I am thinking additionally of this:

Perhaps somebody with a better grasp of Chinookan grammar than I can show
where CJ has verbal forms from Chinookan which reflect the lexifier
language's use of ergativity.

Na wawa "wEXt" qiwa ilEp na tEmtEm pus tl'unEs ChInuk Wawa yaxka t'u7wEn
"ergative" Iktas, pi munk khakwa "ergative".  I say "in addition" because
at first I was thinking whether maybe ChInuk Wawa itself has ergative
features and grammatical rules.

Let me say that since ChInuk Wawa preserved e.g. a sound system and
perhaps some syntax which is marked, in universal terms, it occurs to me
to wonder whether the language has retained other marked features, e.g. in
grammar.   My intuition and my understanding are that pidgins and creoles
tend to display less-marked structures than their lexifier languages,
generally speaking.  However counterexamples come easily to mind; isn't
there a dual and even a trial number in Tok Pisin pronouns?


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