From absolutely optional to only nominally ergative: the life cycle of the Gurindji ergative suffix

Meakins, Felicity (2015). From absolutely optional to only nominally ergative: the life cycle of the Gurindji ergative suffix. In Francesco Gardani, Peter Arkadiev and Nino Amiridze (Ed.), Borrowed morphology (pp. 189-218) Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9781614513209.189

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Author Meakins, Felicity
Title of chapter From absolutely optional to only nominally ergative: the life cycle of the Gurindji ergative suffix
Title of book Borrowed morphology
Place of Publication Berlin, Germany
Publisher De Gruyter
Publication Year 2015
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
DOI 10.1515/9781614513209.189
Series Language Contact and Bilingualism
ISBN 9781614515562
9781614513209
9781501500374
ISSN 2190-698X
Editor Francesco Gardani
Peter Arkadiev
Nino Amiridze
Volume number 8
Chapter number 7
Start page 189
End page 218
Total pages 30
Total chapters 10
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
...This paper discusses the use of the ergative marker on intransitive subjects in Gurindji Kriol and the implications for the analysis of the case system of this mixed language (Section 4). It demonstrates the effects that the transfer of a case form can have on the alignment system of a language (and indeed how case alignment can affect the function of borrowed forms). This paper argues that the Gurindji-derived ergative marker has transformed into an optional nominative marker through a three step process (Section 5). First, as Meakins and O’Shannessy (2010) discuss in detail, the Gurindji ergative marker was borrowed into Kriol, a (nominative-)accusative language, during a period of pervasive code-switching which preceded the formation of the mixed language. These mixing practices brought the Gurindji ergative marker into contact and competition with the equivalent Kriol system of argument marking, word order. Subsequently, the ergative marker became optional and underwent a functional shift to marking highly agentive transitive subjects, thereby maintaining its syntactic function to some extent. At this stage, Gurindji Kriol could be analysed as an optional ergative language. Nonetheless, the lighter syntactic load on the ergative marker and continuing contact with Kriol and English (nominative-)accusative systems no doubt caused the extension of the ergative marker to intransitive subjects and a subsequent shift in case alignment back to an accusative system, albeit morphologically manifested as an optional marked nominative system. This paper begins by placing the borrowing of the Gurindji ergative marker within the context of other studies of case transfer. An overview of the analysis of the function of ergative marker in transitive clauses in Gurindji Kriol is then presented in Section 3 before introducing examples of its use in intransitive clauses in Section 4.
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Created: Wed, 08 Apr 2015, 14:48:15 EST by Ms Katrina Hume on behalf of School of Languages and Cultures