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Hallo!

On Wed, 22 Mar 2006 23:28:28 +0100, Benct Philip Jonsson wrote:

> I just borrowed a somewhat new book on linguistic
> typology
> 
> Author 	 Song, Jae Jung
> Title 	Linguistic typology : morphology and syntax / Jae Jung Song
> Publication 	Harlow : Pearson Education, 2001
> Material Information 	406 s. : ill. ;
> Series 	Longman linguistics library,
> ISBN 	0582312213 (pbk.) : £16.99
> ISBN 	0582312205 : £40.00 : CIP entry (Aug.)
> 
> and true to my nature I immediately read the chapter on
> case marking.
> 
> In the section about mixed marking systems it says,
> that there are languages which have an ergative-
> absolutive marking system on NPs and nominative-
> accusative marking on verbs while there are none
> that have it the other way around (i.e. no language
> with nom-acc NPs and erg-abs verbs!), but it doesn't
> name any language which has this marking system.

I didn't know that, but I have suspected that for quite a while.
I don't know about Basque, but I seem to remember that its verb
marking is nom-acc.  The verb marking of Georgian is nom-acc
at any rate.

> It also mentions the _Nominal Hierarchy_:
> 
> ^   1st person, 2nd person
> |   3d person
> |   personal name/kin term
> |   human
> |   animate
> |   inanimate
> 
> In languages with split ergativity categories towards
> the top of the hierarchy are most likely to have nominative-
> accusative case marking while items towards the bottom
> are most likely to have ergative-absolutive case marking.
> Again there are no known languages that violate the hierarchy,
> i.e. having erg-abs on 1st/2nd person pronouns and nom-acc
> on inanimates.  Languages differ WRT where in the hierarchy
> they draw the border, but they don't wiolate the hierarchy.

Yep.

> Now this has some implications for my (perpetual) thinking on
> the Sohlob case system.  In my most recent delineation animate
> agents take the ergative case, while inanimate agents take the
> instrumental case -- i.e. inanimates are not capable of true
> agentness.

This makes perfect sense, and is also what I am doing in Old Albic.
Inanimate nouns have no agentive case, and in sentences such as
'The stone smashed the window', the "agent" is not a true agent,
and marked with the instrumental case.  It also doesn't trigger
agent agreement on the verb.  (As you perhaps already know,
Old Albic is fluid-S active.)

>       This would give me a nice division of labor between 
> the _-l_ case -- which in slightly different functions
> have been present in the precursors of Sohlob since the late
> seventies (1) -- and the _-r_ case, the _-l_ case being
> ergative and the _-r_ case instrumental.  They are supposed
> to be historically-phonologically related in that the pre-
> Sohlob language had *r_j and *r rather than /l/ and /r/.

This makes sense, too.  AFAIK, ergative and instrumental cases
are often related to each other in ergative languages.

> Now imagine combining this with the Nominal Hierarchy,
> so that 1st person and 2nd person take nom-acc marking,
> inanimates take "instrumental-absolutive" marking and
> the categories inbetween take erg-abs marking!

Why not?

>       Of 
> course both the nominative and the absolutive are to
> be "marked" with a zero morph!

Yes.  In erg-abs systems, the absolutive is usually the case with
a zero morph.

> Now I wonder if such a doubly complicated case marking
> system might be attested in any natlang, or if it is
> too weird?  Of course I also contemplate combining this
> NP marking system with consistent nom-acc marking on the
> verb, which is perhaps too unrealistic,

It isn't.  Georgian, for example, has a split between nom-acc
and active case marking on NPs conditioned by the aspect of the verb,
and nom-acc marking on the verb.

>        or perhaps even 
> with no marking at all on verbs for inanimates but nom-acc
> for categories higher in the hierarchy, which potentially
> is super-unrealistic...

It isn't.  In Old Albic, an inanimate "agent" does not trigger
agreement marking on the verb at all (as I already said above),
and in inanimate patient triggers agreement but not in number
- the singular form is used even if the patient is plural.

Greetings,

Jörg.