Question about head-marked datives

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE
Tue Oct 23 11:09:39 UTC 2007

Enrique Palancar writes:
> 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 inflection.
But note that in Nichols's (1992:49) definition, head-marking may be 
affixal or by a clitic, so the Spanish case would definitely count (and 
the Greek one, mentioned by Hartmut Haberland, as well).

What we are talking about is (affixal/clitic) verbal person marking with 
indirective alignment ("indirect-object alignment", i.e. the P and the T 
are treated alike, while the R is treated differently) and an overt 
person marker for the R (called "dative person marker"). This type 
indeed is not common, cf. Haspelmath (2005), where out of 100 sample 
languages only five (Abkhaz, Basque, Yimas, Choctaw, Purépecha) show 
this type.

See also Gensler 2003 and Siewierska 2003 and 2004 for world-wide 
cross-linguistic data and discussion.


Gensler, Orin. 2003. Object ordering in verbs marking two pronominal 
objects: Nonexplanation and explanation. Linguistic Typology 7.2. pp. 

Haspelmath, Martin. 2005. "Argument marking in ditransitive alignment 
types." Linguistic Discovery 3.1:1-21 

Siewierska, Anna. 2003. Person agreement and the determination of alignment.
In: Transactions of the Philological Society 101.2: 339-370.

Siewierska, Anna. 2004. Person. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at
Max-Planck-Institut fuer evolutionaere Anthropologie, Deutscher Platz 6	
D-04103 Leipzig      
Tel. (MPI) +49-341-3550 307, (priv.) +49-341-980 1616

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