[Lingtyp] Cases of loss of goal markers

Frans Plank frans.plank at ling-phil.ox.ac.uk
Sat Jan 12 13:34:51 UTC 2019

Perhaps “loss” — what Ponrawee was asking about -- should also be taken to include fossilisation, rather than only literal zeroing/omission of segmental marking.  Especially when they are rigid, designations of places, by means of whatever lexical material, have a tendency, often observed at least in Indo-European case languages, to have their local and directional case-marked forms reanalysed as basic forms:

Italian Firenze < Florenti-ae LOC.SG,
French Aix < aqu-is water-ABL.PL
German Buchen < Buch-en beech-DAT.PL
German Neunkirchen < MHG niuw-en kirch-en new-DAT.SG church-DAT.SG

(Toponomasiologists will correct me if I’ve got my examples wrong, and they will provide correct ones galore.)

This may create interesting problems for case-number-gender agreement with such nouns.  But such reanalyses don’t usually entail the omission of adpositional local and directional markers.  There would seem to be some similarity of “functional” motivations, though, between such inflectional reanalyses and adposition omissions — notwithstanding the superficial impression of double rather than zero marking as a result of such reanalysis.  Clearly, synchronically, Fahren wir nach Neunkirchen! ‘Let’s go to Neunkirchen!’ and the like are not double- (or triple-) marked for direction/location.


On 11. Jan 2019, at 19:52, Ponrawee Prasertsom <ponrawee.pra at gmail.com<mailto:ponrawee.pra at gmail.com>> 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.


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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