Marking of function S on nouns

Case marking alignment addresses how the arguments of transitive and intransitive verbs are marked in relation to each other, which may occur through the use of case-bearing affixes or adpositions. The examination of this feature requires consideration of sentences in which the agent is the topic and the rest of the sentence is new information. The syntactic functions examined are S, A, and P. S is the only argument of an intransitive verb, A is the agent of a transitive verb expressing conscious, willful action, and P is the patient of a transitive verb; that is, the entity affected by the action.[1] This parameter evaluates the strategy used by a given language to mark S on nouns.[2]


Neutr: Case alignment is neutral: the functions S, A, and P are not marked morphologically.

NoSMark: The function S is not explicitly marked, while P, A, or both are marked. S is therefore marked with a zero (∅) morpheme.[3]

SAff: The function S is marked with affixation.

SAdp: The function S is marked with an adposition.

When a language displays more than one type of marking[4] (e.g. depending on the class of S), two values can be listed. If one type is structurally dominant, a slash (/) can separate the two values, with the dominant value appearing first; if neither is dominant, the two are listed with an ampersand (&) separating the two.


[1] For example, in the sentence The boy sleeps, S is the function of boy. In The hunter killed the bear, A is fulfilled by hunter, while P is fulfilled by bear. Zero-valency intransitive verbs and ditransitive verbs are not considered in this parameter.

[2] The parameter does not consider whether this strategy is used exclusively for S marking and therefore does not identify the strategy as the nominative, ergative, or another case.

[3] This value should not be confused with the Neutr value, which involves lack of marking rather than the use of the zero morpheme.

[4] Subtypes within a given type of strategy do not constitute multiple types. For example, a language that relies on a variety of prefixes, but only prefixes, should be classified as SAff, despite the variation within that strategy.