Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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The present paper* deals with the important phenomena ergativity and embedding in the aboriginal Australian language Dyirbal.Embedding and ergativity are intimately connected in the syntax of Dyirbal. This motivates the composite theme of my paper.Ergativity, Dyirbal, and embedding are intensively discussed in current functionally oriented syntactic typology. However, despite the fact that these topics have been investigated in depth, the final integrative understanding seems to be still awaiting. This is so mainly because the original analyses of the phenomena in question have incurred the most diverse reinterpretations and even misrepresentations in mainstream theoretical discussions. Many theoreticians have either distorted facts and evidence so as to make these "data" fit their theories, or they have made superficial studies in which important details — which could not be accommodated in their theories — have been neglected. Functional Grammar (cf. Dik 1989; Siewierska 1991), though claiming typological adequacy, is nevertheless no better in this regard: without any evidence for the postulated scenario, Dyirbal ergativity is maintained to have developed out of the passive voice of a hypothesized earlier accusative stage of the language. An accusative analysis of the historical origin is indeed possible, but the evidence points in another direction than that speculated in Functional Grammar. The reconstruction of Dyirbal ergativity is one of the major points of this paper.The present understanding of the theme Dyirbal ergativity and embedding is presented, not only as valuable in itself, but also as a necessary revision of Functional Grammar in particular, as well as a contribution to the functionalistic paradigm in general.The outline of the presentation is:1. introduction — presentation of the theme;2. theoretical background, exemplification, and historical hyotheses concerning the theme;3. elaboration on the theme;4. the topic Dyirbal embedding in particular;5. theoretical implications of the present understanding of the theme;6. conclusion — moral;7. appendices.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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