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The Rise and Fall of Ergativity in Aramaic – Cycles of Alignment Change - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Rise and Fall of Ergativity in Aramaic: Cycles of Alignment Change

Eleanor Coghill


The endangered Eastern Neo-Aramaic dialects have undergone a wholesale renewal of the verbal system. As a result, tense-conditioned ergative alignment developed in the perfect, which later developed into a past perfective. While some dialects preserve a degree of ergative alignment, it is being eroded by movement towards semantic/ Split-S alignment and by the use of separate marking for the patient. Other dialects have lost ergative alignment altogether. Thus, an entire cycle of alignment change can be seen in the 3000-year documented history of Aramaic, something which had been viewed as unli ... More

Keywords: Aramaic, Neo-Aramaic, Semitic, alignment, ergativity, syntactic change, historical linguistics, typology

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780198723806
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723806.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Eleanor Coghill, author
Research Fellow, University of Zürich