Case marking in some Dravidian languages

James Gair jwg2 at CORNELL.EDU
Fri Dec 28 20:51:53 UTC 2001

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>Dear Clancy:

I was happy to hear from you, and hope that all is going well.
My guess would be that this results from the ability of thye
causative affix to form ditransitive verbs or causatives, depending
at least in part on the base verb. That happens in other South Asian
languages as well, especially where the (second) objectis an
experiencer in one reading. Though i would have to dig up examples,
one occurs to me.Thus Sinhala kanawaa is 'eat';kawanawaa (caus) is
feed', and the "feedee" is in the dative . I am reasonably sure that,
though a further 9double) causative is morphologically possible
(kawawanawaa (> /kawoonawaa/ optionally, the single causative form
could also be used as a "true"causative with the causee in the usual
form (in Sinhala one of several postpositions, among them lawaa). In
that case, it is of course also possible to have both the causee and
the one fed (experiencer). One test here would be (1) whether the
second Kannada example is also expandable in this way with the
relevant change of meaning, and (2) whether the base verb is also
possible with an unexpressed direct object (compare English 'he made
me eat' vs. 'he fed me', and this doesn't seem so exotic). In
principle, if something like this is to go through, if there is no
overt experiencer,  as in the second Kannada example, the sense that
some unspecified individual, or more likely set of them,  is fed by
the causee should be possible, as allowed by the possibility of null
pronouns, including indefinites, in these languages.. Here I have to
resort to something like 'he made me do the feeding of the biscuits'
in English

Note that Sridhar, in his Kannada grammar in the Routledge series,
deals with this in descriptive/semantic terms (pp. 218-19, sec, pointing out that the difference is experiencer
(taking the dative) vs. agentivity of causee (instrumental). That is,
I think, consistent with my off the cuff syntactic analysis above
which occurred to me before consulting Sridhar. Also, it seems
consistent in spirit with Gail Coelho's remarks.

This is, of course,connected with the fascinating  and complex  area
of South Asian causatives and associated processes.  However, your
original question involved comitatives, and that is not necessarily
closely connected.
>Mohanan did not give any examples in the source referred to. I
>haven'thad atha time or opportunity to get to wider sources, but in
>Sri lankan Tamil, at any rate, to tell someone to do something with
>collu 'tell' takes the "tellee" in either the accusative or
>referential case (-iTTa;=  postposition (k)iTTe in mainland
>dialects,and variously named... it can be seen as a case affix in

avaraye cappiTac colluñko 'him(Dat) to-eat tell'
avariTTay cappiTac colluñko 'him(Ref) to-eat tell'
'Tell him to eat'
  (Gair, Suseendirarajah and Karunatilaka, An Introduction to Spoken
[Sri Lankan Jaffna] Tamil, p.72)

I am not aware of any difference in meaning, but there may be one
thath I missed.
This may or may not be relevant to your query, but some of the
Dravidian specialists may come up wity more and better. I'll have a
further look when I get a chance,

>I have a question regarding case marking in Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, and
>Marathi.  I'm interested in cases of case marking of DATIVE and COMITATIVE or
>DATIVE and INSTRUMENTAL with the same suffix.
>First, K.P. Mohanan (in his description of Malayalam in the _Intern.
>Encyclopedia of Linguistics_, p. 373) states that indirect objects are
>marked by either the dative or the comitative suffix.  That is, the
>comitative suffix can mark the comitative relation, but also the dative
>In Kannada, one finds the dative relation marked by the dative or the
>instrumental suffix, as in the examples below.
>Avanu-0 nana-ge bisket-annu tin-is-id-anu
>'He fed me the biscuit.'
>Avanu-0 nana-inda bisket-annu tin-is-id-anu
>'He had me eat a biscuit.'
>This is the type of marking I'm interested in.
>My questions are:
>1) Regarding Malayalam, is there a difference in meaning (e.g. logical or
>conversational implicatures) between marking an indirect object with a
>dative or comitative marker?  If so, how would one describe the difference?
>2) Does Tamil have this type of marking, where the indirect object is
>marked by a dative suffix or by an instrumental or comitative suffix?  If
>so, are there differences in meaning expressing by using one or the other
>marker?  If so, how would one describe them?
>3) Does Telegu also have this type of marking??
>Any information on these questions would be greatly appreciated.
>Thanks very much,
>Clancy Clements
>                 *********************************************
>                 J. Clancy Clements
>                 Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
>                 Adjunct Associate Professor of Linguistics
>                 Director of Undergraduate Studies
>                 Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese, BH844, IU-B
>                 1020 East Kirkwood Avenue
>                 Bloomington, IN 47405
>                 Tel 812-855-8612; Fax 812-855-4526
>                 *********************************************

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