García García, Marco ORCID: 0000-0001-8816-1893, Primus, Beatrice and Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. ORCID: 0000-0002-4385-8395 (2018). Shifting from animacy to agentivity. Theoretical Linguistics, 44 (1-2). pp. 25-39. De Gruyter Mouton. ISSN 0301-4428

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The target article argues for a need to distinguish between covert and overt (ly marked) shifts in animacy and claims that understanding these shifts allows for “a deeper understanding of animacy and its effects on language” (abstract target article).* The paper certainly contains a number of interesting observations regarding these shifts, as well as about the relationship between conceptual and grammatical animacy. However, we are not convinced that the kind of animacy shifts discussed in the paper really get us to the core of the role of animacy in grammar. Instead, we argue that animacy-related constraints in grammar reflect the fact that animate beings (and, as we will see, some inanimate ones as well) are potential agents. Hence, such constraints are best understood in terms of semantic-role-related features such as sentience and autonomous motion, i.e. an analysis based on semantic roles. The possibility of such an analysis is also mentioned in the target article (in the last sentence of Section 5), but considered to apply only in a few marginal instances. We would hold, on the contrary, that a semantic-role-based analysis covers the most frequent and typical examples of animacy-related constraints, or at least in those instances where animacy appears to be relevant for the coding of argument structure, of which Differential Object Marking (DOM) is a prime example. Our comments will be restricted to DOM examples, acknowledging that the target article also deals with a few other example types mostly taken from Aristar (1997). *Abbreviations used in this paper: 1, 2, 3: first, second, third person; ART: article; DAT: dative;DOM: differential object marking/marker; ERG: ergative; F: feminine; INDF: indefinite; INF:infinitive; IPFV: imperfective; NOM: nominative; OBJ: object; PL: plural; POSS: possessive; PST:past; SG: singular

Item Type: Journal Article
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
García García,
Himmelmann, Nikolaus
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-381686
DOI: 10.1515/tl-2018-0002
Journal or Publication Title: Theoretical Linguistics
Volume: 44
Number: 1-2
Page Range: pp. 25-39
Date: 2018
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
ISSN: 0301-4428
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 5: Moderne Sprachen und Kulturen > Romanisches Seminar
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 1: Kunstgeschichte, Musikwissenschaft, Medienkultur und Theater, Linguistik, IDH > Institut für Linguistik
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 1: Kunstgeschichte, Musikwissenschaft, Medienkultur und Theater, Linguistik, IDH > Institut für Linguistik > Phonetik
Collaborative Research Centers > CRC 1252: Prominence in Language > TP B07
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Romance languages French
Refereed: Yes


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