16 October 2011

Bhatt at Stanford

Rajesh Bhatt presented joint work with Trupti Nisar, of SNDT Women's University, Mumbai, at Stanford on October 7th. A title and abstract follow.

Shadows of Ergativity: Variable Agreement in Kutchi

Kutchi, a western Indo-Aryan language, presents a typologically unusual split ergative system which manifests ergativity at the wrong end of Silverstein's scale (1st Person is Ergative, everything else seems Nominative). Ergativity is manifested in the 1st Person in Kutchi via object agreement and hence this split is not a surface morphological split of the kind analyzed by Deo & Sharma (2006). Handling non-morphological person based splits is challenging: can the abstract case licensed by a head depend upon the person features of the DP receiving the case? We show that the Kutchi system makes sense once we extend our understanding of ergativity to cover the impoverished agreement found with 2/3 subjects in Perfective Transitive environments in Kutchi - object agreement can then be seen as a limiting case of impoverished subject agreement. We also discuss the typological oddness of Kutchi in the context of the proper location of Silverstein's Generalization (nominal versus verbal), and possible diachronic motivations.