Was Proto-Indo-European an active language? (towards the typology of PIE).

2017. №2, 49-76

Konstantin G. Krasukhin
Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 119019, Russian Federation; krasukh@mail.ru


The article treats the reconstruction of non-nominative (ergative or active) structure of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) syntax. The basic arguments are as follows: the double system of case endings (nominative vs. accusative); the primary double gender system in nouns (animate vs. inanimate nouns); double conjugations, where the active and the inactive paradigms are opposed (or verbal forms of action vs. state). Moreover, there are some verbal pairs, differing by animate / inanimate subject; and the ergative construction is attested in Hittite. But the opposition of several verbs ‘be’, ‘stand’, ‘sit’, ‘lie’ itself does not provide ample evidence for a non-nominative construction; the verbs in the pairs mentioned above differ in their lexical meaning, and the Hittite ergative with the case suffix -ant- can be rather regarded as evidence against the reconstruction of non-nominative construction in PIE: this suffix does not have a similar function in any other IE branch.