Ergative/Absolutive and Active/Stative alignment in West Africa
The case of Southwestern Mande
It is usually believed that non-accusative alignment systems are very rare in Africa. A thorough study of the verbal systems of the Southwestern Mande languages (Looma, Mende, Kpelle) has shown that this group is an exception. The Ergative/Absolutive types of argument coding and semantic alignment are observed in these languages mainly in the personal marking on the verbs. In the Liberian dialects of Looma, only stative verbs (belonging to a closed class) show non-accusative encoding, which can be interpreted as an S-split. In Mende, an Active/Stative type of argument indexing is attested on the verbs of an open class. All the verbs in the stative/resultative/perfect construction in Northern Looma and in the stative/resultative/intensive construction in Kpelle display Ergative/Absolutive alignment.
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