Caucasian Influence on Indo-Iranian Ergativity? – A Diachronic Typological Evaluation


  • Dibyajyoti Jana


Language Typology, Morpho-syntactic Alignment, Ergativity, Indo-Iranian Languages, Caucasian Languages, Diachrony


One of the most important morphosyntactic alignment patterns in human languages is the ergative-absolutive, but researchers have argued that it is a cross-linguistically dispreferred pattern. This alignment pattern, nonetheless, exists in many languages of the Caucasus as well as the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family, extending from the Caucasus to India. Since ergativity is not a feature of the other branches of the Indo-European family and it is apparently a dispreferred structure, this paper investigates if Indo-Iranian developed its ergative structures under the influence of the languages of the Caucasus. On examining various historical, linguistic and typological evidence, this investigation concludes that ergativity emerged in Indo-Iranian through typologically unmarked processes independent of the influence of the languages of the Caucasus.