Volume 41, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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This paper presents a cross-linguistic survey of case systems with several non-phonologically distributed markers of ergative case, based on a convenience sample of more than 70 languages from all over the world. It is shown that in most languages the distribution of different ergative markers splits along the lines predicted by the referential hierarchy (local pronouns > non-local pronouns > proper names > kinship terms > humans > nonhumans > inanimates), thus complementing the much better known ergativity splits. Other types of conditioning of “multiple ergatives” include gender, such nominal morphosyntactic features as number and (in)definiteness, as well as clausal morphosyntactic features like tense/aspect, polarity and person of co-arguments. “Fluid” systems where the choice of ergative marker is based on semantic or pragmatic factors are attested as well. The article also discusses the implications of ergative allomorphy and ergative alternations for the typology of ergativity and case marking in general.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): allomorphy; case; ergativity; morphology; referential hierarchies
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