Two modes of dative and genitive case assignment: Evidence from two stages of Greek

Elena Anagnostopoulou, Christina Sevdali

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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In this paper, we compare the properties of dative and genitive objects in
Classical vs. Modern Greek. Based on the difference in behavior of dative/genitive objects of ditransitives and monadic transitives in the two periods of Greek which correlates with a range of systematic alternations in the case realization of Modern Greek IO arguments depending on the presence and category (DP vs. PP) of lower theme arguments, we argue that there are two distinct modes of dative and genitive objective case assignment: they are either prepositional or dependent (structural) cases, as also proposed by Baker and Vinokurova (2010), and Baker (2015) on the basis of cross-linguistic evidence. If we adopt this proposal a number of important implications follow both for the syntax of Modern Greek genitive indirect objects and for the understanding of the change from Classical to Standard Modern Greek which must be seen as a development from a grammatical system where dative and genitive were lexical/inherent/prepositional cases to a system where genitive is a dependent case assigned to DPs in the sense of Marantz (1991). Interestingly, the development from Classical Greek (CG) to Modern Greek (MG) affected the availability of dative/genitive-nominative alternations in passivization, in the opposite direction of what might be expected, i.e. such alternations were possible in CG and are no longer possible in MG. Our paper addresses this puzzle and argues that the availability of such alternations is not always a diagnostic tool for detecting whether an indirect object DP bears lexically specified or structural/dependent Case, contra standard practice in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-1051
Number of pages65
JournalNatural Language & Linguistic Theory
Early online date16 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 16 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper has occupied us for quite some time now and the people that have helped us along the way are too numerous to mention individually. However, we want to thank the audiences at GLOW 2016, DiGS 17 (17th Diachronic Generative Syntax Conference, University of Iceland), David Pesetsky@60 Panel on Case, the International Conference of Greek Linguistics (ICGL 13 at the University of Westminster, London and ICGL 14 at the University of Patras) and the Linguistics Seminar Series at Ulster University where earlier versions of this work have been presented, for very useful comments. We want to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council in funding the project “Investigating variation and change: Case in Diachrony” (award number AH/P006612/1). We also want to thank Morgan Macleod and especially Dionysios Mertyris for their contribution to the project. Finally, we want to thank Mark Baker, Julie Anne Legate, as well as five anonymous reviewers for NLLT whose comments significantly improved this paper. All errors, of course, remain our own.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Dependent Case · Inherent Case · Dative · Genitive · Accusative · Greek · Prepositions · Passivization
  • Dependent Case
  • Accusative
  • Prepositions
  • Inherent Case
  • Passivization
  • Genitive
  • Dative
  • Greek


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