Differential Subject Marking in Nepali imperfective constructions
A probabilistic grammar approach
We investigate Differential Subject Marking in Nepali imperfective constructions. No previous accounts were satisfying in explaining under what conditions the ergative marker is preferably used. Building on a probabilistic approach to syntactic variability, we conducted statistical analyses on the basis of corpus data, which compared and evaluated the influence of the predictor variables on the ergative marking. We found evidence for the influence of four factors: Animacy, Pronominality, Honorificity, and Tense/Aspect. Animacy appeared to yield the strongest effect. We argue that these factors can be classified into two classes pertaining to two functions of the ergative marker: emphasis of the agent role combined with disambiguation of the patient and the relation of ergativity with verb semantics.
Keywords: Nepali, functions of case, corpus analysis, differential subject marking
Published online: 15 June 2015
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