Semantic Case Marking in Akha

Terrell, Jake
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University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics
Previous analyses of case in Akha (a LoloBurmese language) vary dramatically, with proposals ranging from ergative to antiergative, and even accusative case systems. The confusion surrounding earlier attempts to describe case in Akha originates from the functions oftwo important morphemes: n. ‘with, by, from’; and ‘at, in, on, to’. The inclusion or exclusion of either one as a case marker is not based solely on grammatical relations. One must also take into consideration the degree of semantic similarity between the arguments of the verb by means of an animacy hierarchy that includes human, animal, and inanimate entities. It is easy to miss the significance of the animacy hierarchy if one concentrates only on case marking as it pertains to grammatical relations. Doing so has promoted conflicting interpretations of case in Akha in the past. This study shows that the language has semantic case marking and nominativeaccusative syntax withpassive and causativepassive voice.
Terrell, Jake. 2009. Semantic Case Marking in Akha. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Working Papers in Linguistics 40(3).
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