Case Marking and Alignment

Balthasar Bickel and Johanna Nichols

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199206476
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Case Marking and Alignment

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



Alignment is standardly illustrated with ergative vs. accusative coding of subjects as in Basque and Russian. It is the identical versus distinct coding or treatment or behaviour of argument roles that are different at some other level or in some other part of the grammar. Alignment of case marking can be seen as a generalised version of morphological syncretism: the same marker covers different argument roles but, unlike classical syncretism, it does so across all, or nearly all, paradigms. Split-S, or stative-active (or similar terms), is generally taken to be an alignment type on a par with accusative, ergative, etc. This article first considers case marking in the broad sense: morphological cases (whether marked by affixes, clitics, separate case words, ablaut, tone changes, etc.) and adpositions. It also looks at all alignment types involving arguments, including those where arguments are coded as adjuncts or possessors, along with compound verbs and non-lexical conditions.

Keywords: alignment; argument roles; arguments; case marking; stative-active; adpositions; morphological cases; adjuncts; possessors; compound verbs

Article.  5527 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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