Volitional patients

Richard Madsen norrv at HUM.AU.DK
Wed Mar 22 15:18:59 UTC 2006

As for the Icelandic examples, isn't it a question of the patient also
being beneficiary when the dative is used, and not so much its being
volitionally involved? The dative is often used as a marker of the
beneficiary. Of course, beneficiaries are usully humans and thereby
volitional beings, but being benefaciary doesn't mean being volitionally
involved in the action. Are there other verbs in Icelandic that alternate
between the accusative and the dative in that manner?

As for the German examples, I don't think the use of the dative has
anything to do with the humanness of the object. Of course, "schmeicheln"
and "gratulieren" can hardly take non-human objects, but "folgen" and
"begegnen" can. Still, the objects of these two verbs are in the dative
regardless whether they are human or not.


Paul Hopper <hopper at CMU.EDU> den 22. marts 2006 kl. 15:37 +0100 skrev:
>On Aashild's query about volitional patients: Some German verbs also take
>the dative when the human object is in some way complicit in the action.
>Examples would be schmeicheln "flatter", gratulieren "congratulate",
>folgen "follow", begegnen "meet". But unlike Aashild's Icelandic example,
>the accusative is never an alternative.
>Goethe notoriously wrote "Wer ruft mir?" "Who calls me?" (Faust I,1).
>"Mich" (acc.) in place of "mir" (dat.) would be correct here, and Goethe
>is routinely accused of committing a solecism, but perhaps there is a
>subtle intention--the object being a spirit (Erdgeist) waiting to be
>> Dear colleagues,
>> I'm wondering if anyone has information on languages where a patient 
>> arugment which is somehow volitionally involved in the event which
>> it (e.g. 'letting' something happen to it) is marked differently from a
>> regular nonvolitional patient. There are examples of this from Icelandic
>> (examples from Barddal 2001):
>> 1. Hann klóraDi mig        2. Hann klóraDi mér he.NOM scratched me.ACC
>> he.NOM scratched me.DAT
>> (D here used for the voiced dental approximant) Both of these translate
>> into English as 'he scratched me'; the difference is that in 1) the
>> scratching is an act of violence, where as in 2) it refers to scratching
>> in order to relieve an itch; in other words, the dative-marked
>> in 2) voluntarily submits to the scratching, whereas the
>> participant in 1) is a hapless victim.
>> Does anyone know of other languages that show similar patterns? The 
>> distinction wouldn't necessarily have to be in the case-marking of the 
>> object, any formal distinction on this basis is of interest.
>> Thanks in advance,
>> Åshild Næss -- Åshild Næss Postdoctoral researcher Dept. of Linguistics
>> Scandinavian Studies University of Oslo P.O. Box 1102 Blindern 0317
>> Norway
>> Phone: (+47) 22 84 40 06
>> Office: HW327
>Paul J. Hopper
>Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of the Humanities
>Department of English
>College of Humanities and Social Sciences
>Carnegie Mellon University
>Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA
>Tel. 412-683-1109
>Fax 412-268-7989

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list