O-only agreement

Ulrike Zeshan uzeshan at UCLAN.AC.UK
Sun Sep 20 09:23:57 UTC 2009

Hi, though this is only partially what you are looking for, the majority of sign languages have the following agreement patterns:

- no agreement with intransitive S
- agreement with both A and O for some transitive verbs
- agreement with O only for some other transitive verbs

Interestingly, agreement with A only in transitive verbs does not occur.

Verb agreement with transitive verbs is also known as "directionality" in sign linguistics (due to the agreement being shown by the direction of the hand movement during production of the verb).


Prof. Ulrike Zeshan
Director, International Centre for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Livesey House, LH212
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR12HE, UK
uzeshan at uclan.ac.uk
Ph. +44-1772-893104

>>> peterarkadiev <peterarkadiev at YANDEX.RU> 19/09/09 2:51 PM >>>
Dear typologists,

while Paul Hopper has come up with an example of A-only agreement in Malay (see references below), I ask a follow-up question concerning the mirror-image situation: are there any languages where the verb would agree exclusively with the transitive O (patient, undergoer, direct object), but neither with the transitive A nor with the intransitive S?

Many thanks and best wishes,

Peter Arkadiev

Paul J. Hopper, 1987 Stability and change in VN/NV Alternating Languages:
A study in pragmatics and linguistic typology. In M. Bertuccelli Papi and
J.Verscheuren, eds., The Pragmatic Perspective, 455-476. Amsterdam: John

Paul J. Hopper, 1983 Ergative, passive, and active in Malay narrative
discourse. In F. Klein-Andreu, ed., Discourse Perspectives on Syntax,
64-87. New York: Academic Press.

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