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Morphological and Syntactic Ergativity in Polynesian

Rolf, Molly (2018) Morphological and Syntactic Ergativity in Polynesian. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Alignment in the Polynesian language family varies widely despite the many shared phonological, morphological and lexical features. It is therefore contentious whether ergativity or accusativity should be reconstructed, and what the reconstruction of Proto­-Polynesian should look like. Syntactic ergativity and its synchronic and diachronic relationship with morphological ergativity in the PN languages is not widely understood or discussed in the literature. This paper selects three languages (Māori, Samoan and Tongan), one from each of the three subgroups of Polynesian. Their case marking and pronominal systems are examined and compared synchronically, and accounts of various reconstructions are reviewed. Predictions of the future of the morphological alignment of these languages are made. Two proposals of syntactic ergativity are also reviewed, before four syntactic processes in the three languages are studied for the presence or absence of syntactic ergativity. Based on the findings, the author agrees with an accusative reconstruction of Proto­-Polynesian and details a predicted drift towards ergativity within Polynesian, with syntactic ergativity possibly following suit.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > Language and Linguistic Science (York)
Depositing User: Miss Molly Rolf
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 09:42
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 09:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20411

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