[Ads-l] Loss of the English dative

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Feb 10 02:31:42 UTC 2015

At 2/9/2015 07:43 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> > And (in both languages) aren't they also accusative markers?  "I 
> gave him <something>" / "I hit him".  I won't attempt the analog in German.
>The claim was just that the -m forms in English were historical 
>datives, not that they function that way now.  The idea is there's 
>been neutralization or conflation toward the dative in these cases; 
>the so-called "objective" case can descend historically from a 
>dative or not.  But in German there's still a distinction in the 
>forms I cited:  "einem" and "dem" are dative-marked masculine 
>indefinite and definite articles respectively, "einen" and "den" 
>their accusative counterparts.  And Wilson informs us that this is 
>true in Slavic as well, which I hadn't known.

I had forgotten even that basic bit of German!  I would even have a 
hard time reciting the prepositions.  No wonder I was reluctant to 
attempt anything.

In English, do we no longer distinguish a dative (use, if not form) 
from an accusative, as in "I gave him the [chicken] leg " vs. "I hit 
him in the leg"?  Or perhaps we don't because we call them the 
"indirect" and "direct" objects?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list