[Lingtyp] Cases of loss of goal markers

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Sat Jan 12 03:49:01 UTC 2019

Dear Ponrawee,

I have been conducting, for the last several years, an experimental 
cross-linguistic study of zero-marking options for various thematic 
roles, of which goal, referred to in this query, is just one — see 
references below for some preliminary results.The findings so far 
suggest that the zero-marking option is much more widespread 
cross-linguistically than is commonly acknowledged.

I would, however, question the use of the term "loss" to describe the 
phenomenon of zero marking.While this may indeed be appropriate in some 
cases, in most cases, zero-marking represents a default option, to which 
additional flagging elements may be added if and where deemed 
necessary.Viewing this in terms of "loss" is Eurocentric.

Supporting this, in many cases, one finds a path of grammaticalization 
leading from a zero-marked goal construction to one in which the verb 
"go" becomes reanalized as an allative marker.For example, in most 
varieties of Malay/Indonesian, "pergi" ('go') usually takes a 
zero-marked goal, as in (1); however, in some varieties, its cognate 
form is reanalized as an allative marker, as in (2) — its allative 
function being evidenced by its occurrence in constructions such as (3):

(1) Riau Indonesian

Ali pergi pasar

Ali go market

(2) Sabah Malay

Ali pi pasar

Ali go/to market

(3) Sabah Malay

Ali bawa durian pi pasar

Ali bring durian to market

So in Malay/Indonesian, then, it is an allative marker that develops out 
of a prior zero-marked goal.  (I suspect you might find a similar path 
of grammaticalization also in Mainland Southeast Asian languages.)

Gil, David (2008) "How Complex Are Isolating Languages?" in M. Miestamo, 
K. Sinnemäki and F. Karlsson, eds., /Language Complexity: Typology, 
Contact, Change,/ John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 109-131.

Gil, David (2015) "The Mekong-Mamberamo Linguistic Area", in N.J. 
Enfield and B. Comrie eds., /Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia, The 
State of the Art/, Pacific Linguistics, DeGruyter Mouton, Berlin, 266-355.

For Gil (2015) see section 2.16 on Optional Thematic-Role Flagging, 
where the following table is provided showing the availability of "bare 
oblique" constructions (including but not limited to zero-marked goals) 
in some languages of the Mekong-Mamberamo area:

Language Availability of Bare Oblique Constructions:

Cantonese 42%

Vietnamese 67%

Lao 54%

Muarasiberut Mentawai 75%

Sundanese 76%

Jakarta Indonesian 68%

Nage 79%

Roon 59%

Meyah 66%

On 12/01/2019 03:52, Ponrawee Prasertsom wrote:
> Dear all,
> I am looking for languages where goal markers (case affixes, 
> prepositions, etc. corresponding to English /to/) developed into zero, 
> i.e. are lost. That is, from something like /I go to school /to /I go 
> school. /Does anyone know of such cases?
> Currently, I am aware of only one such case: goal preposition loss on 
> Asia Minor Greek (Karatsareas and Georgakopoulos 2016), which 
> reconstructs history from variation among dialects (se > se/∅ > ∅).
> Ideally, I would like cases with attested historical data, but 
> reconstruction or any other relevant data such as ongoing change etc. 
> is also welcome.
> Reference:
> Karatsareas, Petros and Thanasis Georgakopoulos. 2016. From 
> syntagmatic to paradigmatic spatial zeroes: The loss of the 
> preposition se in inner Asia Minor Greek. STUF - Language Typology and 
> Universals, 69(2), 309-340.
> Yours sincerely,
> -- 
> Ponrawee Prasertsom
> Graduate Student
> Department of Linguistics
> Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University
> Bangkok, Thailand
> _______________________________________________
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David Gil

Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany

Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816

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