Accusative language

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The distribution of accusative languages. The relational typology or the types of morphosyntactic alignment include: neutral (without explicit morphological case) [51.6%], nominative-accusative [S / A, P] (standard: accusative or nominative) [24.2% ], only nominative [3.2%], ergative - absolute [S / P, A] [16.8%], active-inactive language [SP / P, SA / A] [2.1%] and ergative-accusative - Language [S, A, P] [2.1%].

As accusative , even nominative-accusative languages are referred to in the language typology a type of classification of sentence members as he is familiar from most European languages, including the German: accusative use the same grammatical marker (eg. Case ) for the subject of transitive verbs (typically the agent argument) and the subject of intransitive verbs - this is the nominative case. This type of language gets its name from the fact that a special case is used for the direct object of transitive verbs (typically the Patiens argument), namely the accusative . The accusative tends to be the case, which is marked separately, while the nominative tends to be the case that remains unmarked (i.e. it has no endings).

Such a division into nominative and accusative additions is the most common case in the languages ​​of the world, but there is no alternative to it. a. the type of ergative language , which (ideally) proceeds in a mirror-inverted manner and uses a specially marked case only for the subject of the transitive sentence, unmarked cases in the other positions.

In a strict sense, only those languages ​​are accusative languages ​​in which an accusative is marked as a special case. In a broader sense, this designation is also applied to systems that mark supplements differently than by case, i.e. H. by word order or personal affixes on the verb, but make a similar subdivision.


  subject object
transitive Nominative accusative
intransitive Nominative -

A well-known example of an accusative language is Latin - here, however, in addition to the accusative, the nominative is usually also marked with an ending (which is very rarely the case in German, for example):

Domin-us veni-t.
Herr- come- present.3sg
"The Lord is coming."
Domin-us serv-um audi-t.
Herr- slave- hear- präs.3sg
"The master hears the slave."

For distribution

  • In Europe (excluding the Caucasus), almost all languages ​​are classified as accusative languages, with the exception of Basque .
  • Most Indo-European languages (e.g. German, Latin or Greek) are accusative languages, Hindi and Marathi are exceptions.
  • This type is also common around the world, e.g. B. It is available in the Urals languages (e.g. Finnish, Hungarian), in the Turkic languages (e.g. Turkish) or in Japanese .

See also

Other systems:

Generic term:


  • Thomas Payne: Describing Morphosyntax . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK), 1997. (Chapter 7)

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Stolz: Ergativ for the bloodiest beginners. University of Bremen, pp. 1–12
  2. For an explanation of the different language types, with a link to a map showing the distribution of accusative languages ​​in a sample of 190 languages ​​worldwide, see: