Ergative in Hindi/ Urdu: Reconciling the perfective oblique and the heavy imperfective analyses

  • R Amritavalli The English and Foreign Languages University
Keywords: Ergativity, Hindi/ Urdu, person checking, tense


Careful analysis of auxiliary occurrence in Hindi/ Urdu perfective and imperfective clauses suggests that Bjorkman’s (2015) “heavy perfective” account of ergative as oblique case licensed by Perfective aspect is not incompatible with Coon’s (2013) “heavy imperfective” proposal. Only the imperfective clause has a Person feature, whose checking allows nominative case assignment (contra Coon, the ergative split is not due to disruption of “ergative alignment”). Ergative is a participial case that appears where nominative fails; ergative languages differ from nominative languages in how they allow/ disallow Person checking and the projection of Tense. In Hindi/ Urdu, Person checking differentiates imperfective from perfective clauses. In person-split ergative languages, Person checking differentiates [+Person] from [-Person] or [0Person] arguments. My argument from Hindi-Urdu is thus relevant to person-split ergative languages, and (potentially) to the Romance auxiliary split. 

Author Biography

R Amritavalli, The English and Foreign Languages University
Formerly Professor, Linguistics, The EFL University, Hyderabad 500007 India