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Bookmark and Share Paper 3043

Towards a Parameter Hierarchy for Alignment
Michelle Sheehan
399-408 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper proposes a parameter hierarchy to derive all and only the various clausal alignments attested in natural languages (accusative, split-S, morphologically ergative, tripartite, syntactically ergative high and low absolutive). These alignments are derived from five dependent parameters which, it is argued, also serve to derive a number of otherwise mysterious universal implications, such as the ban on split-S syntactically ergative languages. Rather than being prespecified in Universal Grammar, it is proposed that the parameter hierarchy in question is structured by the pressure for convergence: ordering the relevant parameters in any other way makes possible non-convergent derivations. As such, the parameter hierarchy provides not only a characterisation of which alignments are attested in natural language but also the beginnings of an explanation as to why we find these alignments and no others.

Published in

Proceedings of the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Robert E. Santana-LaBarge
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00