Extended ergativity in Bumthang

Cathryn Jane Donohue, Mark Donohue

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This paper addresses ergativity in Bumthang. In 2016, Donohue & Donohue reported on the variable use of the ergative case marker in Bumthang transitive clauses. They identified a number of largely pragmatic, semantic, and informational structural contexts that license the use of the ergative case on the subjects. Given the nature of the factors involved we examined similar conditions for arguments of monovalent verbs, not a typical context for receiving ergative case if structural conditions were uniquely determining case, but which would likely also be sensitive to these same factors. We find that there are some contexts in which the sole argument of an monovalent verb can bear ergative case, drawing on some of the same features, but not identical to those relevant for transitive verbs. In particular, the notion of agentivity is of paramount importance for licensing ergative case arguments of monovalent verbs, and we discuss the set of factors that need to coincide for this to happen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages24
JournalHimalayan Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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