The first clear statement of the differential object marking (DOM) universal: Moravcsik (1978)

One of the most famous phenomena in argument flagging is differential object marking (DOM), or split P flagging: a situation where some P-arguments bear a special accusative flag and others don’t, typically depending on referential prominence (definiteness, animacy, topicality, etc.). The following examples are taken from my 2021 paper on split argument marking: Continue reading

Austronesian languages prefer agent-first orders: Some notes on Riesberg et al. (2019)

In their 2019 paper “How universal is agent-first?”, Sonja Riesberg, Kurt Malcher and Nikolaus Himmelmann argue that western Austronesian languages provide evidence for a general “agent-first” preference, although they often have a neutral order in which the patient (or another type of “undergoer”) unexpectedly precedes the agent. They examine 51 languages of the Philippines and Indonesia/Malaysia, and they find that seven of them show a gap that may be explained by an “agent-first” force (groups 2a-2c on p. 554). Continue reading

Two senses of “lexicon”: The inventorium and the lexemicon

[Update Jan 2024: There is now a draft of a paper that makes the same proposal in a more formal way, available on Lingbuzz:]

This blogpost proposes two new terms for what Mark Aronoff  (1988) called “idiosyncratic-lexical” items and “categorial-lexical” items: the inventorium is the set of all morphs, constructions and phrasemes of a language (i.e. all idiosyncratic meaningful elements), and the lexemicon is the set of all lexemes of a language, i.e. the members of the major lexical categories noun, verb and adjective. I think that by using these two terms (and one further term, as discussed below), we can avoid confusions that have often been a problem. Continue reading