The syntax of Indic

  • 1. Word classes 5. Word order
  • 2. Nominal morphosyntax 6. Sentence syntax and complex sentences
  • 3. Verbal morphosyntax 7. Abbreviations
  • 4. Non-inflectional words 8. References

Word classes

The inventory of word classes (parts of speech) which are relevant for a syntactic description of Indic, as in most other ancient Indo-European languages, consists of: verb, substantive, adjective (with pronominal adjectives), adverbials, and a few minor categories of non-inflexional lexemes, the most important of which includes particles.

Nominal morphosyntax

Grammatical relations and cases

Grammatical relations and types of alignment

The main grammatical relations which are relevant for a description of Old Indo-Aryan nominal syntax include Subject (S), Direct Object (DO), Indirect Object (IO), and a variety of Oblique Objects (Obl). In its earliest forms (Vedic), Old Indo-Aryan follows the nominative-accusative pattern of alignment, with S in the nominative and DO either in the accusative (canonical marking), or in some oblique cases: locative, genitive, or instrumental (non

canonical marking). The subject is, by contrast, almost uniformly encoded with the nominative, with only rare exceptions (see, in particular, Hock 1990); on some alleged instances of oblique subjects, see Verbeke, Kulikov and Willems 2015: 24-27.

For the ergative analysis of constructions with verbal adjectives (“perfect passive participles”) in -ta-/-na- and the passive agent in the genitive (Andersen 1986), see below.

From late Old Indo-Aryan and, especially, from Middle Indo-Aryan onwards, when the instrumental argument of -ta-/-na-adjectives (“participles”) acquires some subject properties (see, in particular, 6.1.2), these constructions give rise to the ergative syntactic pattern.

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