Reference tracking in Tima and its interplay with split ergative marking
Tima, a Niger-Congo language of the Sudan, shows signs of split ergativity. If its constituent order deviates from the basic AVO order to OVA order, the postverbal agent is formally marked, unlike preverbal agents. A direct object, regardless of its position relative to the verb, is never marked. Research so far has shown that ergative constructions are triggered by certain participant constellations in discourse. In particular, when the speaker keeps a non-agentive participant, more specifically a direct object, as the centre of attention in sentence-initial position, a newly introduced agent occurs postverbally and receives ergative marking. In addition, AOV and OAV constructions are attested, both involving focus marking.
Keywords: differential subject marking, reference tracking, information structure
Published online: 04 February 2019
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