Abstract and Keywords
This chapter overviews some of the patterns of emergence and development of ergative case markers in the world’s languages. What shines through most clearly is diversity: the range of possible source morphemes, constructions, and developmental pathways is much broader than might be expected. Rarely, it is possible to identify lexical sources for ergative case markers. More common sources are other case markers (notably instrumental, genitive, oblique, and ablative), and indexical items (such as demonstratives and pronominals); other possible sources include directional elements and focus markers. Ergative case markers can also be the sources of further grammatical developments, and can develop into markers of other grammatical categories, including other cases and verbal categories such as tense and aspect. Some observations are also included on the emergence and development of ergative case marking in language contact situations.
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