Kaingang, an Amerindian language of the Ge family, is spoken in four Southern states of Brazil: São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.
The basic word orders in Kaingang are (1) SUBJECT (or Agent) + (2) OBJECT (or Patient) + (3) VERB for transitive constructions, and (1) SUBJECT+ (2) VERB for intransitive constructions. Consider the examples bellow (the symbol ¨ represents a nasal):
(1) Subj + O + Vt
rãrir vÿ rãgró tóg tï
Sun-Subj Marker bean dry Asp-HAB
‘The sun dries the bean.’
(2) Subj + Vi
kÿnkÿr vÿ të
parrot-Subj Marker fly-Vi
‘The parrot flies’
Kaingang is a subject-initial language which shows the following constituent order: Postposition follows Noun (N-Postp), Noun precedes Adjective (N-Adj), and Genitive precedes Noun (Gen-N).
This means that Kaingang is a slightly inconsistent SOV type (Greenberg’s type 24) which displays, like Basque, the (N-Adj) disharmony. Note that languages with Basque typology are at least partially ergative. Besides that, ergative system occurs with languages that show the SOV or VSO as their basic word order.
The Kaingang clause displays the following general pattern:
S (Cir/IO) (O) V (ASP)
That is, the subject and the verb are the only obligatory elements in all clauses. The subject is commonly the first element in a clause. However, the direct object may be preposed for emphasis. Nondirect arguments such as circumstance (Cir) and the indirect object (IO) occur before the object. The object immediately precedes the verb. As a rule, the object is always unmarked for case. Fronting of an object from its unmarked position results in its marking by the postposition tÿ. Finally, the aspectual particles (ASP) are positioned as the last element in a clause.