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TYPOLING - Bulletin d’information N°351

Vous êtes cordialement invités à une communication dans le cadre du séminaire à l’EHESS sur la typologie linguistique de l’Asie orientale présentée par :

Alexander R. Coupe

Nanyang Technological University



The Sino-Tibetan (ST) languages are surprisingly diverse in the strategies they employ for encoding ‘who does what to whom’. Some have little in the way of head or dependent marking and instead rely exclusively upon contextual pragmatics for encoding semantic roles, while others are consistently ergative-absolutive or nominative-accusative according to their dependent marking characteristics. Yet others have additionally reanalyzed head-marking morphology from independent pronouns, some with hierarchical agreement systems.

As a result of the profusion of text-based grammatical descriptions done in recent decades, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a substantial number of ST languages evince a hitherto unrecognized type of core case-marking that is neither consistently ergative-absolutive, nominative-accusative, or neutral. Languages that employ differential case marking on either an actor or an undergoer argument may eventually conventionalize the syntactic requirement to always mark one core argument of a bivalent clause, thus conforming to either an ergative-absolutive or nominative-accusative pattern, depending upon which core argument comes to be overtly marked. The fact that the distribution of core case marking is not syntactically constrained in some languages needs to be explained ; it would appear that the development of case-marking alignment is a diachronic process that first begins with the need to encode either agency or affectedness, but only under pragmatically constrained situations.

The conclusions to be presented have typological relevance for understanding what the diachronic precursors of grammatical functions are, and why a pragmatic motivation for core argument marking logically precedes the development of syntactically determined alignment systems based on the transitivity status of the clause. This is of relevance not only to the ST languages, but arguably also to other languages of the world that have grammaticalized relational morphology.

Pour information :

Pour toute information complémentaire, veuillez contacter Hilary Chappell sur ou au CRLAO, 105 bd Raspail, M. Hugues Feler au 01 53 10 53 71.

« On the development of case-marking systems

in Sino-Tibetan »

le mercredi 27 avril 2016

de 16h à 18h

dans les Salons de l’INaLCO

2, rue de Lille

75007 Paris