Varieties of Dative

Åshild Næss

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199206476
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Varieties of Dative

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Linguistic Typology


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Of the commonly recognised case categories, the dative is perhaps the most difficult to define in a consistent, cross-linguistically valid way. In Greek and Latin, where the term originates, the dative case was used both for the goal/recipient argument of ditransitive verbs, and for the complements of certain intransitive verbs such as ‘help’, ‘obey’, or ‘trust’. These two types of argument are commonly taken to share the property of being ‘indirectly affected’ by the verbal event, and so given the label ‘indirect objects’. Case markers labelled ‘dative’ vary greatly in the range of functions they cover, although they must be assumed to share some common semantic core. It is fairly common for dative functions to be indicated by adpositions, as in English and many other languages of Europe. This article looks at the functional varieties of dative and its overlap with other cases such as dative-accusative syncretism, dative-allative syncretism, and dative-genitive syncretism.

Keywords: dative case; indirect objects; case markers; adpositions; dative-accusative syncretism; dative-allative syncretism; dative-genitive syncretism; ditransitive verbs

Article.  3232 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology ; Linguistic Typology

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