Differential Case Marking and Actancy Variations

Andrej L. Malchukov and Peter De Swart

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Differential Case Marking and Actancy Variations


In the early 1980s, Hopper and Thompson (1980) and Tsunoda (1981b), independently of each other, argued in favour of a prototype approach to transitivity in which transitivity is treated as a gradable and multi-factorial notion. A high or prototypical transitive clause correlates with the presence of a number of parameters, or in Tsunoda's terms satisfaction of the Effectiveness Condition (EF-CON). Such a prototypical transitive clause is realised with a transitive case frame: nom-acc or erg-abs with one marked (acc/erg) and one unmarked (nom/abs) case (depending on the alignment type). In particular, Hopper and Thompson have identified the parameters contributing to transitivity of a construction. These transitivity parameters include participants, kinesis, aspect, punctuality, volitionality, affirmation, mode, agency, affectedness of O, and O individuation. This article discusses differential case marking and actancy variations, focusing on transitivity and case alternations, transitivity alternations and transitivity splits, split case alternations and verb type hierarchies, constraints on case frames, differential object marking, functions of case marking and economy, differential subject marking, and differential case marking beyond core actants.

Keywords: Effectiveness Condition; differential case marking; actancy; transitivity; case alternations; case frames; differential object marking; case marking; differential subject marking; core actants

Article.  6108 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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