Marked Nominatives

Christa König

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Marked Nominatives

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  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



Marked-nominative languages are a mixture of ergative/absolutive and nominative/accusative-systems (accusative in short). The pattern of the transitive subject, A, the intransitive subject, S, and the transitive object, O, is the same as in accusative languages, namely, A and S are treated the same and simultaneously differently than O. They share this feature with accusative languages. This article uses the term ‘nominative’ for cases covering A and S, and ‘accusative’ for cases covering O. But the accusative in marked-nominative languages is the morphologically unmarked form, at least typically; it is used in citation, and it is also functionally the unmarked form. The nominative on the other hand is the morphologically marked form in a marked-nominative system; A, the transitive subject, therefore is encoded by the morphologically marked form. This article discusses marked nominatives and illustrates the way they work by a few case studies (Tennet, Maa, Datooga, Haro).

Keywords: Tennet; Maa; Datooga; Haro; marked-nominative languages; accusative languages; transitive subject; intransitive subject; transitive object

Article.  4238 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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