Abstract and Keywords
This chapter argues that argument encoding systems that seem to involve three syntactic core cases (nominative/absolutive, ergative, accusative) are actually common ergative or accusative systems syntactically, with overt case markers for each of the two cases that disappear in intransitive contexts. Based on evidence from Kham, Djapu, Nez Perce, Upriver Halkomelem, and Dyirbal, it shows that a purely morphological approach to differential marking in terms of scale-driven optimization via harmonic alignment and local conjunction (based on Aissen (2003)) can derive these systems straightforwardly if a transitivity scale is postulated in addition to the standard definiteness, animacy, and person scales (Hale (1972), Silverstein (1976)). Since apparent three-way systems usually also involve differential marking sensitive to Hale/Silverstein scales, a conservative extension to (in)transitivity suggests itself. The final parts shows that the new morphological approach is either directly supported by, or at least compatible with, the available syntactic evidence.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.