Raising to ergative: remarks on applicatives of unaccusatives


Applicatives of unaccusatives provide a crucial test case for the inherent case view of ergativity. If ergative is assigned only to external arguments, in their theta-positions, there can be no “raising to ergative” in applicative unaccusatives; an internal argument subject can never receive ergative case. In this paper I present evidence from Nez Perce (Sahaptian) that this prediction is false. In Nez Perce applicative unaccusatives, the theme argument raises over the applicative argument and is accordingly marked with the ergative case. Nez Perce thus demonstrates raising to ergative. Building on Baker’s (2014) study of similar phenomena in Shipibo (Panoan), I argue that apparently nonlocal movement of the theme in the raising-to-ergative pattern involves not a covert adpositional structure, but rather a response to independently motivated constraints on antilocal movement and remnant movement.

Publication date: 
January 1, 2019
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Deal, Amy Rose. 2019. Raising to ergative: remarks on applicatives of unaccusatives. Linguistic Inquiry 50(2), 388–415.