Languages show ergativity when they treat transitive subjects distinctly from intransitive ones, treat objects like intransitive subjects, or treat unaccusative subjects unlike unergative and transitive subjects. Ergativity plays a central role in the study of case, agreement, and non-finite clauses. It casts light in addition on the constraints at play in A’ extraction. Across these domains, the investigation of ergativity offers a rich arena of crosslinguistic variation against a backdrop of potential language universals. This chapter surveys both the major proposed universals of ergativity and the variety of theoretical approaches which have been applied to them. A central theme is that ergativity is not one but many phenomena.

Publication date: 
January 1, 2015
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Deal, Amy Rose. 2015. Ergativity. In Artemis Alexiadou and Tibor Kiss (eds.), Syntax – Theory and Analysis. An International Handbook, volume 1, chapter 20, pp 654-707. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter