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The Rise and Fall of Ergativity in AramaicCycles of Alignment Change$
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Eleanor Coghill

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723806

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723806.001.0001

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(p.6) 2 Alignment
The Rise and Fall of Ergativity in Aramaic

Eleanor Coghill

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 presents the current understanding of alignment of verbal arguments from a typological perspective. First, the areas of language which may exhibit alignment are outlined, namely flagging of arguments, person indexing, and syntax. Then various mechanisms by which alignment may change are presented: these are discussed with regard to actual cases where such mechanisms are supposed to have brought about alignment change. Some general observations are also made on processes of alignment change, as well as the role that language contact may play. Finally the focus is brought to bear on shifts from accusative to ergative in the past or perfective, as occurred in Eastern Aramaic dialects. Various theories as to how this may happen are examined, in particular with regard to the Aramaic case and that of neighbouring Iranian languages.

Keywords:   alignment, alignment change, accusative, ergative, Aramaic, Iranian, typology

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