Differential objects and datives – a homogeneous class?

Contributions are invited for a special issue on Differential objects and datives – a homogenous class? to appear in Lingvisticae Investigationes, edited by Monica Alexandrina Irimia (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) and Anna Pineda (Universitat Pompeu Fabra).

One of the cross-linguistically robust, yet puzzling uses of dative morphology is to signal certain classes of structural (direct) objects, normally including animates, specifics, definites, or a combination thereof (Givón 1984, Bossong 1991, Lazard 2001, de Swart 2007, Glushan 2010, Manzini and Franco 2016, a.o). This picture is common across Romance, as illustrated by Spanish (1). The animate definite object in (1a) must take a marker which is homophonous with the dative a (1c), under differential object marking (dom – Moravcsik 1978, Comrie 1979, 1981, Croft 1988, 1990, Bossong 1991, 1998, Aissen 2003, López 2012, a.o.):

(1) Spanish

a. He                    encontrado    *(a)                    la       niña.

have.1.sg             found            dat=dom             the       girl

‘I have found the girl.’

b.  He                  encontrado   (*a)                    el        libro.

Have.1.sg            found           dat=dom           the       book

‘I have found the book.’                               (Ormazabal and Romero 2013, ex.1 a, b)

c.  Les              recomendé        un       libro    a          los       estudiantes.

cl.3.pl.dat         recommended   a          book    dat     the       students

‘I recommended a book to the students.’     (Ormazabal and Romero 2010, ex.1)


The same picture is seen in the Indo-Aryan family (Butt 1993, Mohanan 1994, Bhatt and Anagnostopoulou 1996, a.o.). In (2a) the object proper name must take an obligatory postposition which is homophonous with the dative (2c):


(2)    Hindi-Urdu

a. Ram    Anil-*(ko)                 uthae-gaa.

Ram        Anil-dat=dom           carry-fut

‘Ram will carry Anil.

b. laa-ne             haar-(*ko)                 uthayuthay-aa.

Ila-erg                 necklace-dat=dom    carry-perf

‘Ilaa carried a necklace.’                                            (Mohanan 1994, ex. 92, 80)

c. Ram-ne         Aditi-ko         kitaab              dikhaa-ii.

Ram-erg             Aditi-dat        book.f             show-perf.f

‘Ram showed a book to Aditi.’         (Bhatt and Anagnostopoulou 1996, ex. 1b)


This type of syncretism extends to Guaraní (Shain 2008), Tigre (Raz 1980), Yiddish (Katz 1987), Basque varieties that have dom (Odria 2014, 2017, Fernández and Rezac 2016, a.o.), Arabic varieties (Aoun 1999), etc. A non-trivial question is whether it signals a common syntactic source or is simply a matter of surface opacity. Under some accounts, the homomorphism has a structural nature, for example dom and (certain types of) datives occupying the same (licensing) position (López 2012) or encoding the same relation (Manzini and Franco 2016). Various contributions have also pointed out important structural differences between datives and differentially marked objects (Ormazabal and Romero 2007 for Spanish, Odria 2014, Fernández and Rezac 2016 for Basque, Bárányi 2018 for a cross-linguistic picture, a.o.), motivating a morphological solution to the syncretism. Yet, a mixed explanation is proposed under other analyses: differential objects are absolutives/accusatives structurally but require additional marking due to the syntactic configuration (Odria 2017) or due to their complex featural make-up (Irimia 2018a, b). There are also languages where differentially marked objects and datives are not homophonous (Farsi, Hebrew, Romanian, Turkish, Palauan, Kannada, etc.), raising the question whether the ‘dative behavior’ also extends to them. Another important aspect is what type of diagnostics can be used to motivate a syntactic or a morphological analysis for the syncretism.

We welcome descriptive or theoretical contributions that address the source of the syncretism, as well as how to model it. Novel data or examples from less studied languages are particularly appreciated, and proposals that confront various theoretic approaches are welcome. We are also interested in discussions of this problem from an experimental perspective, in microvariation, and as well as in diachronic studies.

Papers submitted in English will follow the double-blind revision process. The selection of the papers for publication is made on full versions of the papers: the final versions should not be significantly longer than or different from the original papers. Submissions should not exceed 37000 characters (including spaces), references included, and must respect the typographical conventions of Lingvisticae Investigationes:



– submission of papers: October 31st 2018

– notification to authors: November 30th 2018

– final version of papers: December 31st 2018

– publication: February 28th 2019


Scientific Committee

Larisa Avram (University of Bucharest)

András Bárány (SOAS University of London)

Alexandra Cornilescu (University of Bucharest)

Cristina Cuervo (University of Toronto)

Beatriz Fernández (University of the Basque Country)

Cristina Guardiano (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)

Klaus von Heusinger (University of Cologne)

Virginia Hill (University of New Brunswick in Saint John)

Monica Alexandrina Irimia (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)

Jaklin Kornfilt            (Syracuse University)

Béatrice Lamiroy (KU Leuven)

Luis López (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Alexandru Mardale (INALCO, Paris)

Dimitris Michelioudakis (University of York)

Javier Ormazabal (University of the Basque Country)

Anna Pineda (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

Juan Romero  (University of Extremadura)

Alina Tigău (University of Bucharest)

Jenneke van der Wal  (Leiden University)




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