Placing Atayal on the Ergativity Continuum

Zong-Rong Huang, Kuo-Chiao Jason Lin


Atayal, a Formosan language, has long been regarded as an ergative language (Huang 1994; Starosta 1999). However, re-examinination of Atayal syntax shows its mixing property of ergativity (A-binding, imperative, A-bar-extraction, narrow scope of O, etc.) and accusativity (coordination, control, no weak-crossover, etc.). Comparison between Atayal and other Austronesian ergative languages (Aldridge in press; Arka & Mannning 1998; Paul & Travis 2006) yields the ergative continuum : Tagalog > Atayal > Malagasy > Seediq > Indonesian. This continuum further supports the view that ergativity cannot be a macroparameter because no core properties are found among them (Paul & Travis 2006).

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