Clause combining, ergativity, and coreferent deletion in Kurmanji

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A distinction is commonly made between morphological or surface ergativity, and syntactic or deep ergativity, based on what Dixon has termed the “pivot” behavior (S/A vs. S/O) of a language. Since marked constructions enable an S/A pivot to function even in some deep ergative languages, deep or syntactic ergativity might be interpreted as gradational, depending on the degree to which ergative morphology interferes with the grammar of clause integration and referent coherence. For spoken Kurmanji, a northwest Iranian language with surface ergativity, tentative restrictions on zero-anaphora in conjoined clauses are identified which relate to ergative agreement patterns. These are compared to the distribution of zero-anaphora in other complex constructions involving clause combining. Surface ergativity is found to be one of a variety of factors which may promote re-location of the subject referent in a language in which non-finite structures play a peripheral role, and multi-clause constructions are under pressure to replicate the structure of single proposition clauses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-653
Number of pages41
JournalStudies in Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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