Warning: this post may be a bit hard to digest, especially if you aren't familiar with alignment. It's also quite late, so I apologise on beforehand for any errors or weird sentence constructions.
is about how the different core arguments of a verb are grouped into cases
(wether these are explicitly marked or not is irrelevant. Well... most of the time, anyways*
). Let's take a look at the different kinds of core arguments:
) of an intransitive sentence
of a transitive sentence
of a monotransitive sentence
of a ditransitive sentence
of a ditransitive sentence
Intransitive: He (S) sleeps
Monotransitive: He (A) hits her (P)
Ditransitive: He (A) gives her (R) a book (T)
Let's look at the grouping of S
, and P
- Accusative languages group S and A into the nominative. P becomes the accusative. f.e. English
- Ergative languages group S and P into the absolutive. A becomes the ergative. f.e. Basque
- Tripartite languages assign a different case to each: S is the intransitive, A the ergative and P the accusative. f.e. Wangkumara
- Active languages (sometimes called split-ergative) group S with P or with A, depending on an external factor. This can be wether S is in control or not, wether the verb represents a state or an action, ... or it can be completely arbitrary. The two resulting cases are commonly called agentive and patientive, but also ergative and accusative respectively. f.e. Georgian, sometimes
- Some other languages exhibit even weirder alignments, like an animacy hierarchy (aka direct/inverse system). I'm not sure about this, but I think I even read about a language which groups A with P and marks S differently. Which is pretty damn crazy.
Now let's look at the grouping of P
. This part of alignment usually receives less attention... a pity, really.
- Dative languages (or direct/indirect-object-languages) group P with T. R becomes the dative. f.e. English
- Dechticaetiative languages (or primary/secondary-object-languages) group P with R. T becomes the dechticaetiative. f.e. Yoruba
- There are also languages that group P, R and T in a single case, and rely completely on context in ditransitive sentences to make out which is which.
My own language, Lembrin
is (semantically and syntactically) active-dechticaetiative
It makes a control-based distinction in intransitive sentences between agentive
. It is also Fluid-S
which means that you aren't forced to use one of them, you can use both and get subtle differences in meaning:
(and I am in control)
(and I am not in control)
One could say this when being chased, or something.
The opposite is Split-S
which means that you have to use the agentive
with some verbs, and the patientive
Lembrin is dechticaetiative:
oi dauma lis stymo
I give you the chair
On top of that, Lembrin has a few verbs which are semantically monotransitive, but syntactically behave like ditransitive sentences with either the agent or the patient missing. An example is cør
, to agree with
. The subject is in the agentive
or the patientive
, depending on control, whereas the object is in the dechticaetiative
cøra lis réasso
I agree with the document (and I am in control)
li cøra réasso
I agree with the document (and I am not in control)
One could say this when one is forced to sign it, for example.
So, what's your language's morphosyntactic alignment?** You are encouraged to draw a diagram and provide examples
*: Some languages show different alignments morphologically and syntactically.
**: I realise that this question is perhaps a bit oversimplified: some languages show different alignments depending on other factors like verb tense, 1st, 2nd or 3rd person, ... in that case, feel free to elaborate