Volume 38, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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This paper investigates two instances of alignment change, both of which resulted from reanalysis of a nominalized embedded clause type, in which the external argument was marked with genitive case and the internal argument was focused. We show that a subject marked with genitive case in the early development of Austronesian languages became ergative-marked when object relative clauses in cleft constructions were reanalyzed as transitive root clauses. In contrast to this, the genitive case in Old Japanese nominalized clauses, marking an external argument, was extended to mark all subjects. This occurred after adnominal clauses were reanalyzed as root clauses. Japanese underwent one more step in order for genitive to be reanalyzed as nominative: the reanalysis of impersonal psych transitive constructions as intransitives.

With these two case studies of Austronesian and Japanese, we show that reanalysis of nominalization goes in either direction, ergative or accusative, depending on the syntactic conditions involved in the reanalysis.


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