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A New Grammaticalisation Pathway: From Non-Finite Verb to Ergative Marker

Pages 53 - 59


Studies on the diachronic origin of ergative and agentive markers (Palancar 2002, Heine and Kuteva 2002) have focused on the development of ergative from other case markers, in particular spatial cases (ablative, locative, allocative, perlative) as well as genitive and instrumental. These diachronic pathways are indeed widespread. For instance, the ergative -s, -kjis in Tibetan is obviously related to the -s in other cases such as the ablative -las, the elative -nas and the comparative -bas (see Hill 2011 on the use of these cases in Old Tibetan). This is however far from being the only attested origin of ergative markers. In this paper, we present data from Tangut showing a grammaticalisation pathway from a converbial form of the verb ‘to do’ to the ergative. We first describe some syntactic properties of the ergative in Tangut, and then propose a path of grammaticalisation accounting for this development.


Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France

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