Chapter published in:Typological Hierarchies in Synchrony and Diachrony
Edited by Sonia Cristofaro and Fernando Zúñiga
[Typological Studies in Language 121] 2018
► pp. 59–110
The Obligatory Coding Principle in diachronic perspective
The Obligatory Coding Principle accounts for the inventories of possible coding frames in languages that, according to the current terminology, can be characterized as consistently accusative or consistently ergative in their system of argument coding. In coding frame inventories fully consistent with the Obligatory Coding principle, every coding frame includes a given type of coding, either A (in obligatory A coding languages) or P (in obligatory P coding languages). However, languages with coding frame inventories violating this principle are not exceptional. This chapter examines the types of evolutions that may result either in global shifts affecting the Obligatory Coding Principle, in systematic violations of the Obligatory Coding Principle, or in the gradual spreading of non-canonical coding frames. The idea underlying this study is that, before discussing the theoretical status of this kind of generalization, it is crucial to clarify its involvement in diachronic processes.
Published online: 26 July 2018
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