Are Verbs Always What They Seem To Be?

Are Verbs Always What They Seem To Be?, in Iran and the Caucasus, 12.2, 307-23, 2008

The general pattern of verbal agreement in the small North West Caucasian language-family may be assumed to be (reasonably) well-known to caucasologists. In summary the system operating in one member of the family, Abkhaz, is as follows. With no case-marking to differentiate between a verb's arguments, the language relies on three, morphologically somewhat similar sets of pronominal agreement-prefixes, designated 1, 2, and 3, which simply reflects their linear order within the verbal complex. Set 1 cross-references an intransitive subject (S) or transitive direct object (O/P); Set 2 correlates with indirect/oblique objects; Set 3 marks a transitive subject (A). Though this is not directly relevant to the discussion below, this patterning means that the language can be characterised as Ergative in alignment.

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