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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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The decline of ergative alignment and new developments

The decline of ergative alignment and new developments

(p.250) 7 The decline of ergative alignment and new developments
The Rise and Fall of Ergativity in Aramaic

Eleanor Coghill

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 addresses the erosion and loss of ergative alignment, showing how this occurred via semantic alignment, whereby certain intransitive subjects (S arguments) came to align with the ergative. In those dialects in which the process was completed, and all S arguments align with A, the original intransitive resultative perfect, which had been restricted to verbs with particular Aktionsart, was not lost. While the Qṭil li construction had shifted from expressing the present perfect to a general past perfective, the intransitive paradigm continued to express a specialized perfect. Initially limited to intransitives and passives, in some dialects this was extended to transitives. This chapter shows the diverse ways in which an original asymmetry in the verbal system can be resolved. Summing up the evolution of the intransitive paradigm into a perfect, it also presents even newer perfects that have been grammaticalized and how these relate to the older forms.

Keywords:   alignment change, ergativity, semantic/Split-S alignment, tense–aspect, perfects, resultatives, Aktionsart, grammaticalization

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