Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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Estival and Myhill (1988) propose the passive construction as the (only) source for morphological ergativity, and hypothesize a unidirectional path of change which appears crucially to pass through a stage which they label deep ergative, but which has been called discourse ergative by a number of linguists working in the field of discourse analysis. This paper begins by addressing the synchronic issue of whether or not Indonesian may be considered discourse ergative. An examination of discourse determinants of voice in Indonesian shows that it cannot be considered ergative on a discourse level. However, Indonesian developed out of Early Modern Malay, which has been identified as discourse ergative (Hopper, 1979a, 1979b, 1983, 1986). This analysis of Indonesian has serious diachronic implications for Estival and Myhill's (1988) hypothesis, which must be revised either by allowing for bidirectional change, or by eliminating the discourse ergative stage.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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