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Split ergativity in Nêlêmwa

Abstract : Nêlêmwa (New Caledonia) is a split ergative language. Pronouns are accusative, while nominal arguments are marked as ergative-absolutive. The two ergative markers signal the distinction between animate and inanimate agents. With active intransitive verbs (motion, position, affect, perception, cognition, discourse, Aktionsart), there is a choice of absolutive or ergative constructions, according to the position of the oblique NP. If in the canonical position of the patient (VPA), the oblique NP counts as a full argument and the prime argument is then ergative. If the oblique NP is in the standard, peripheral position of adjuncts, it is then adjunctive and the prime argument is absolutive. The choice correlates with semantics: the ergative construction stresses agentivity, intentionality. This is also evidence that the standard order of arguments of transitive constructions is VPA.
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Isabelle Bril. Split ergativity in Nêlêmwa. C. Odé & W. Stokhof. Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (Leiden, 1994), Amsterdam : Rodopi B. V., pp.377-393, 1997. ⟨halshs-00655440⟩

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