Both the creation of the qam-paradigm and the limitation of intraconjugational indexing of the object to 3rd person pronouns can be interpreted as structural developments linked to the "loss of ergativity": the qam- forms paradigmatically restore nominative-accusative alignment, while the occurrence of a split ergative feature, such as the intraconjugational object indexing by means of subject pronominal endings, is limited to the person that occupies a lower position in the animacy hierarchy
Table 7 relates levels on the animacy hierarchy
(see Silverstein 1976) to the distinctiveness of case forms.
Language can be used to dehumanize by imputing a nonhuman animality to a human in the dominating/dominated power relationship, according to the animacy hierarchy
, ranging from the most animate to the lifeless.
In the final section, "Metals," she pushes animacy to its farthest potential, delving down to the lowest rung on the animacy hierarchy
by applying animacy theory to inanimate matter.
Chen argues that the initiation and operations of the dominant animacy hierarchy
queers ontology and intimacy by subverting the taxonomical borders it putatively erects between humans and animals or humans and metals, for example.
Hernandez (2011: 85) further develops the idea of the likelihood of gendered pronouns occurring along an animacy hierarchy
going from human animate > non-human animate > inanimate count > inanimate mass nouns, with decreasing degrees of individuation.
A possible example of a phenomenon that has been wrongly attributed according to Aristar (1996, 1997) is the animacy hierarchy
. This hierarchy is often seen as a general cognitive universal that may or may not become apparent in the grammar of languages.
This result goes against a widely acknowledged crosslinguistic tendency to show animacy-based word order preferences; in fact, the effects of the animacy hierarchy
are categorical in some languages, such as Lummi, which have person-driven passives (Bresnan et al.
It is within this second, more specific, descriptive interpretation that hierarchies have been studied in this paper, by analysing a group of priority hierarchies which have been proposed as relevant to Subject selection in English: the Definiteness Hierarchy (definite > other specific > non-specific), the Person Hierarchy (first person / second person > third person), the Number Hierarchy (singular number > plural number), the Animacy Hierarchy
(human > other animate > inanimate force (3) > other inanimate), the Concreteness Hierarchy (concrete entities > abstract entities), and the Entity Hierarchy (first-order entities > higher-order entities) (Dik 1997a: 279).
Generalizations are presented in the form of implicational hierarchies, most notably the Animacy Hierarchy
, seen in Chapters 3 and 4 to constrain the kinds of nominal which can be marked for number, with higher-ranked items (e.g.
| Animacy hierarchy
: animate > inanimate (11) Figure 2: CORE-ANIMACY alignment To summarize, locatives are low in the thematic hierarchy, and therefore are typically non-core/non-arguments.
This explanation finds confirmation in the use of ma-, analyzed as mu- + a dative element /a/, which is the only means of expressing the dative for first person, the pronoun which is at the top of the Animacy Hierarchy
. Conversely, as Woods demonstrates, bad- is most common with clauses that are low in transitivity and where the focus is on the endpoint of the action rather than the agent, which would also account for why passive constructions, in which the agent is either deemphasized or omitted entirely, are typically expressed with this prefix.