Syntactic lability vs. ergativity in Indo-Aryan

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Contemporary IA languages are considered to be purely nominative at the level of syntax. Ergativity is restricted to the morphological domain. However the scrutiny of certain syntactic constructions such as converbal clause chaining or coordinate conjunction reduction shows that they are not necessarily sensitive to the basic grammatical relations (Bickel & Yādava 2000), in other words, the notion of pivot is not fully operational in the IA languages. The aim of the present paper is to demonstrate that apart from the dominating syntactic A/S pivot early NIA shows: (a) instances of converbs not controlled by the A of the main clause and (b) the dropped element in coordinate or certain subordinate constructions is not always an A/S argument. The alleged syntactic lability will be observed diachronically in four dialectal groups, namely Rajasthani, Pahari, Western Hindi and Eastern Hindi.


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