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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2019, Vol. 50, No. 2, Pages 388-415
(doi: 10.1162/ling_a_00310)
© 2018 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Raising to Ergative: Remarks on Applicatives of Unaccusatives
Article PDF (149.42 KB)
Abstract

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 θ-positions, there can be no “raising to ergative” in applicative unaccusatives; an internal argument subject can never receive ergative case. In this article, 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 ergative case. Nez Perce thus demonstrates raising to ergative. Departing from Baker’s (2014) conclusions for 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.