This paper argues that a subset of derived subjects (particularly the unaccusative subject) is allowed to receive ergative Case, contra the widely accepted generalization that derived subjects such as the subject of unaccusatives and passives are not marked with ergative (Marantz, 1991). To illustrate this, the paper investigates the interaction between Case alignment and instrumental voice constructions (hereafter IVCs) in Ixil (Mayan) (Dayley, 1981; Ayres, 1983, 1991). In particular, the paper addresses the unexpected emergence of the ergative in a subcase of IVCs: unergatives and unaccusatives. This occurs when an instrumental phrase is fronted to clause-initial position. The paper claims that the fronted instrumental phrase feeds the assignment of ergative Case, adopting a recent phase-based analysis of dependent ergative case (Baker, 2014, 2015). The ergative found in unaccusatives and unergatives as well as the regular ergative of Ixil can be analyzed as "dependent" ergative under this analysis.
Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
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