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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.287) 8 Conclusions
The Rise and Fall of Ergativity in Aramaic

Eleanor Coghill

Oxford University Press

The development and loss of ergativity in Aramaic are tightly bound with the grammaticalization of new perfects. Chapter 8 summarizes how the renewal of the Eastern Aramaic verbal system and reanalysis of an experiencer argument (and secondarily affectees) as agent brought about a change in alignment. A gap in the system of perfects then motivated the extension of the ergative construction Qṭil li to some and then all intransitives, bringing about a return to full accusative alignment. The chapter summarizes the types of new perfects that arose once Qṭil li shifted to a general past perfective, and examines on a more theoretical level the role that new perfects can play in bringing about tense-conditioned ergativity. It shows that this can only be expected under certain conditions and presents the possible paths that could lead to tense-conditioned ergative alignment, offering models of alignment change that can be tested on other languages.

Keywords:   tense-conditioned ergativity, Aramaic, alignment change, syntactic change, perfects, grammaticalization, typology

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