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Deconstructing ErgativityTwo Types of Ergative Languages and Their Features$
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Maria Polinsky

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190256586

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190256586.001.0001

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Cross-linguistic landscape

Cross-linguistic landscape

Correlates of PP-ergativity

(p.111) Chapter 6 Cross-linguistic landscape
Deconstructing Ergativity

Maria Polinsky

Oxford University Press

Several properties seem to correlate with the availability of PP-ergative subjects. First, since such ergative subjects are not DP-like, they may not be the best candidates to satisfy the requirement that finite clauses have a subject. Instead, a verb or a verb phrase with agreement features on it raises to the inflectional area instead. That accounts for a particularly high incidence of ergative languages among verb-initial languages. Not all verb-initial languages are PP-ergative languages, if only because a PP-ergative may develop into a DP-ergative, and not all verb-initial languages are even ergative. However, the number of verb-initial languages among PP-ergative languages is disproportionately high. The second correlate of PP-ergativity, the absence of expletive subjects, seems to be related to verb-initiality as well. Finally, PP-ergative languages rarely have non-canonical (quirky) subjects. This observation is tentative and needs to be tested further.

Keywords:   EPP, verb-initial orders, verb raising, VP-raising, expletive subject, quirky subject

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