[Lingtyp] differential argument marking conditioned by modification

Daniel Ross djross3 at gmail.com
Thu May 5 15:30:59 UTC 2022

Dear Dejan,

In the broadest sense of differential morphosyntax for objects, one thing
that comes to mind is object incorporation in polysynthetic languages,
where I believe this is typical only of bare noun forms without
modification (and especially where those verb+noun combinations are
culturally typical). That isn't differential object marking in a
traditional sense (and I think typically optional and stylistic, even for
unmodified nouns), but it is a case of objects being expressed differently.
I don't believe that incorporation is considered a typical feature of
Yukaghir languages, but it is a feature of some neighbors, so one possible
explanation for this feature might be contact? Could one the non-modified
form of this be considered less typologically marked, almost as some kind
of promotion? Or does the modified form seem like some kind of non-default
as an exception due to being modified?

Differential object marking isn't my area of research, but my impression is
that what you describe is not typical (for example, in the Romance


On Thu, May 5, 2022 at 3:02 AM <matic at uni-muenster.de> wrote:

> Dear typologists,
> Has any of you ever seen a case of differential argument marking
> conditioned by whether the argument is modified (i.e. has an attributive
> modifier or some other adnominal dependent) or not?
> I have this in Tundra Yukaghir. The story goes roughly as follows: If I
> want to say "I see a reindeer", "reindeer" will take the case suffix A; if
> I say "I see a good reindeer", "reindeer" takes the case suffix B. In both
> instances, the argument behaves syntactically the same, the only difference
> between the two types of case forms being the presence vs. absence of an
> attributive modifier.
> I have been wondering (a) if any of you know of similar cases in any other
> language, and (b) how to name and gloss the case form that is used only
> with modified arguments.
> (I am aware that there is a similar situation in the only relative of
> Tundra Yukaghir, Kolyma Yukaghir, and that there have been some analyses
> based on these data, but that's not what I am asking about.)
> Thank you for your answers!
> Best,
> Dejan
> --
> Prof. Dr. Dejan Matic
> Institut für Sprachwissenschaft
> Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
> Aegidiistr. 5
> 48143 Münster
> Germany
> tel. +49-251-8324494
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