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Auteur: Tobias WEBER

Language-internal variation in crosslinguistic perspective: studying patterns of interacting factors conditioning Differential Agent Marking

Abstract/Résumé: Differential Agent Marking (DAM) is a variation in the case-marking of the agent argument of two- or three-argument constructions. (I follow Bickel’s (2011) approach of grammatical relations.) Factors conditioning DAM are the following: 1) Referential properties of the agent argument, such as person, number, animacy, lexical class (e.g. noun vs. pronoun) 2) Predicate class, where the predicates belonging to the same class have the same case frame 3) Clausal properties, such as TAM categories or clause types (e.g. main clause vs. different types of dependent clauses) 4) Semantic factors (e.g. volitionality) 5) Information structure Many languages have more than one factor conditioning DAM and exhibit complex interaction patterns of these factors. For instance, in languages having different predicate classes, further splits are often restricted to only one predicate class (usually the one involving prototypical transitive constructions). Moreover, splits conditioned by information structure often only occur in a subset of agent arguments (i.e. agent arguments with specific referential properties) and/or only within certain TAM categories. The present paper aims at discussing different patterns of interactions of factors conditioning DAM, focusing on the following questions: 1) What factors are found in specific languages? 2) How do these factors interact with each other? 3) Are there crosslinguistically recurrent patterns? Some methodological prerequisites should also be mentioned here: 1) Case marking is defined here in fairly broad terms, including any element of dependent marking on the clause level irrespective of their morphological nature (affixes, clitics and separate words), since the properties (and definitions) of words vary widely across languages. 2) Arguments (and valence) are defined in purely semantic terms (following the approach by Bickel 2011) since the application of syntactic criteria of argumenthood poses problems for the crosslinguistic investigation of arguments. Examples are drawn from a worldwide sample of languages. However, languages of Australia, New Guinea, the Himalayas and the Caucasus feature more prominently, since the most complex interaction patterns are found there. Reference Bickel, Balthasar. 2011. Grammatical relations typology. In Jae Jung Song (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 399-444.