ergative to accusative alignment

Daniel Hieber -- ============================================================ Ljuba Veselinova, Associate Professor Dept of Linguistics, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden Phone: +46-8-16-2332 Fax: +46-8-15 5389 URL : "We learn by going where we want to go." Julia Cameron ============================================================ dwhieb at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 9 18:58:08 UTC 2014

Richard, that’s a great point. Bickel et al. (2013) provide an excellent illustration of this issue, which they call ‘Siewierska’s Problem’ in memory of Anna and her seminal (2003) article on alignment in ditransitive constructions. There she points out that verbal person marking can show different patterns of alignment depending on whether one examines the trigger potential, morphological form, position, or conditioning factors of the person forms. Bickel et al. then show that discrepancies among these different criteria are in fact extremely common crosslinguistically. So the descriptive linguist needs to be very specific about the details of alignment, and make sure they're comparing like with like when comparing synchronic or diachronic data.


Bickel, Balthasar, Giorgio Iemmolo, Taras Zakharko & Alena Witzlack-Makarevich. 2013. Patterns of alignment in verb agreement. In Dik Bakker & Martin Haspelmath (eds.), Languages Across Boundaries: Studies in Memory of Anna Siewierska. 15-36. De Gruyter.

Siewierska, Anna. 2013. Person agreement and the determination of alignment. In Dunstan Brown, Greville G. Corbett & Carole Tiberius (eds.), Agreement: A Typological Perspective. 339-370. Wiley-Blackwell.

Daniel W. Hieber
Graduate Student in Linguistics
University of California, Santa Barbara

Omnis habet sua dona dies. ~ Martial

From: Richard Griscom
Sent: ‎Thursday‎, ‎January‎ ‎9‎, ‎2014 ‎8‎:‎16‎ ‎AM

This is a very interesting topic, but I would also add a word of caution against making assumptions regarding entire language systems conforming to a single alignment pattern. In my opinion, alignment is best viewed as construction-specific rather than language-specific in order to avoid inaccurate generalizations across the distribution. This, of course, doesn't preclude an analysis of a shift in the alignment patterns of one or more constructions in a given language. 



On Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 12:32 AM, Florian Siegl <florian.siegl at> wrote:

A related phenomena though only partly answering the initial posting is attested on Kamtchatka. Chukchi and Koryak show ergative alignment, but not Itelmen. The Itelmen absolute case marks S as well as A and P. Whether the Itelmen transitive verbal agreement markers still follow erg-abs alignment is not settled. Itelmen is not ergative but apparently not very nominative-accusative either. See the relevant sections in Georg, Stefan & Volodin, Alexander P. 1999. Die itelmenische Sprache - Grammatik und Texte. Tunguso-Sibirca 5. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.


Best wishes,


Florian Siegl


On 9.01.2014 9:03, Don Killian wrote:

Dear Raheleh, 

Depending on what you might be including by ergative, there's an interesting article by Dimmendaal 2012 ( in which he postulates the origins of Marked Nominative (depending on who you ask, some consider this a subcategory of accusative alignment) in Eastern Sudanic languages. 

Gaahmg is particularly interesting as far as diachronic developments go, as it also has both passive and antipassive constructions and in fact can allow for both types of markers simultaneously.  If you're curious, email me and I can send you an article by Tim Stirtz. 



On 01/08/2014 02:24 PM, Raheleh Izadi Far wrote: 

Dear all, 

Does anybody know about languages which have changed from ergative 
alignment to accusative alignment? or does anybody know about the 
mechanisms involved in such a change? what are the studies concerning 
this issue? and if there are any, are they accessible online? 

Thank you very much in advance 

kind regards, 
Raheleh Izadifar
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