a type of sentence construction in which the subject of a transitive verb is indicated by a special marker, and the marker of the direct object coincides with that of the subject of an intransitive verb.
The ergative construction is found in languages with an ergative structure, where it is contrasted to an absolute construction. In Avar, for example, di-tsa beche bachana (“I drove the calf) is an ergative construction; beche bachiana (“the calf arrived”) is an absolute construction.
The ergative construction is part of a broader ergative system, which is expressed in the lexicon by the division of verbs into transitive and intransitive and in the morphology by the distinction between ergative and absolute cases in nominal declensions or by two sets of personal markers in the conjugation of the verb. The ergative construction is found in Basque, in the Caucasian languages, and in many ancient Eastern and Indo-Iranian languages; it is also found in the Papuan, Australian, Chukchi-Kamchatka, and Eskimo-Aleut languages and many American languages.
REFERENCESBokarev, E. A. Ergativnaia konstruktsiia predlozheniia: Sb. per. st. Moscow, 1950.
Meshchaninov, I. I. Ergativnaia konstruktsiia v iazykakh razlichnykh tipov. Leningrad, 1967.
Klimov, G. A. Ocherk obshchei teorii ergativnosti. Moscow, 1973.