Research in the area of typological linguistics, that is, the study of the ways in which languages can differ from each other or the variation that language exhibits, has led to many theoretical advances made by contemporary linguistics. To illustrate, we can say that most modern advances in phonological theory emerged from the description of African languages. Ultimately, linguistic theory and languages are inseparably connected.
In the meantime, there is still a tendency for viewing everything “fix” in language, that is, to study linguistic phenomena as purely synchronic facts. Rather, natural languages are living things, and all living things change. So that, a language may lose a certain way of expressing, for example, the difference between subjects or subject/object, but, as pointed out by Scargill (1969), it will develop a new way “to replace what it has lost.”
In a word, in these series of articles we will discuss the possibility that Kaingáng has used consistently the agentive postposition tóg (see Wiesemann, 1972:104) as an ergative marker in independent clauses. For the most part, then, our only concern here is to show that Kaingáng displays at least some degree of ergativity in elementary transitive and intransitive clauses.
In what follows, we will examine the Kaingáng subject/object case-marking typology. The research proposed here is based on data from Southern Kaingáng dialogues and narratives published by FUNAI. Certainly, we will use further data which were collected in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Kaingáng nominal ergative marking: the split system
Let us begin our story by introducing anew the basic definitions. It is important that we have got the terms straight. As previously stated, the ergative case identifies with a special mark the subject (St) (not necessarily the agent) of the transitive verb, whereas the direct object (DO/O) of a …