ablative as ergative marker

Scott DeLancey delancey at DARKWING.UOREGON.EDU
Thu Oct 22 19:09:15 UTC 1998

On Wed, 21 Oct 1998, Eva Schultze-Berndt wrote:

> In Australia ablative-marking of agents has also been reported for
> Nunggubuyu (Heath 1984: 204f), a language which is primarily head-marking,
> i.e. agents are normally unmarked, not ergative-marked.
> I suspect this phenomenon is more common though (in light of the fact that
> 'source' markers can also mark agents in passives, e.g. in German).

Ablative marking of passive agents is quite common, at least in
European languages.  There's an interesting discussion of the
phenomenon in Clark and Carpenter, "The notion of source in language
acquisition", Language 65:1-30 (1989).

Scott DeLancey	
Department of Linguistics
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403, USA

delancey at darkwing.uoregon.edu

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