Question about head-marked datives

Peter Austin pa2 at SOAS.AC.UK
Tue Oct 23 07:45:35 UTC 2007

A number of Australian Aboriginal languages have what could be considered head-marked datives. Perhaps the best known example is Warlpiri which has dative clitics attached to the Auxiliary encoding direct arguments of ABSOLUTIVE-DATIVE verbs and also third participants with ERGATIVE-ABSOLUTIVE verbs. See Jane Simpson 1991. Warlpiri morphosyntax: a lexicalist approach.  Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. Dordrecht: Kluwer as a starting point. There are also non-Pama-Nyungan languages with dative agreement on the verb.

Best wishes,
Peter Austin

-----Original Message-----
From: "Enrique L. Palancar" <epalancar at HOTMAIL.COM>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 23:50:47 -0500
Subject: Question about head-marked datives

Dear Colleages,
Lately, I have been wondering about head-marked datives. Chickasaw (also 
Choktaw) (Muskogean) has been described in Munro (1999) and Munro and Gordon 
(1982) to have a special set of dative pronominal affixes on the verb. The 
set appears to have emerged from the fusion of older object encoding 
pronominal prefixes with the dative applicative. These head-marked datives 
do in Chickasaw quite a lot of the same things that dative case does in 
other languages; besides, it also marks external possessor as in many 
European languages, and it also reminds one of the dative subjects in 
Icelandic/Old Norse and Dravidian lgs.
     Otomi (Otopamean; Otomanguean) is another family of Amerindian 
languages that has head-marked datives. The feature has always struck me as 
odd typologically, but it was never more than a gut-feeling. I wanted now to 
pursue a better perspective on the subject in order to understand it a 
little bit better, and I thought it’d be good to send the following question 
to the list:

Does anybody know of other languages with similar datives?

Needless to say, Spanish, along with other Romance lgs., could count as such 
one language if one takes dative verbal clitics as part of verbal 

Thank you very much for your help and for your knowledge,
Enrique Palancar

-Munro, Pamela. 1999. Chickasaw Subjecthood, in Doris L. Payne and Immanuel 
Barshi, External Possession, pp. 251-292. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John 
-Munro, Pamela and Lynn Gordon. 1982. Syntactic Relations in Western 
Muskogean: A Typological Perspective.  Language, 58:1, pp. 81-115.

Prof Peter K. Austin
Marit Rausing Chair in Field Linguistics
Director, Endangered Languages Academic Program
PhD convenor
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom


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