Dative 'to': also reference to place ?

< Previous | Next >

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
How can you translate in your language - if you can at all -
I gave it TO him ?

Can that preposition (or ...) refer to both dative and to place, is my question, as one might conclude
from ENG to (both dative and direction),
from FRE à, ...
DUT aan is not considered a reference to a movement...

The background is : is there any evidence for corroborating Steven Pinker's hypothesis that datives were originally referring to a movement in space?
 
  • Perkele

    Member
    Finland, Finnish
    FINNISH

    Translating dative into Finnish is most commonly done with suffix -lle.

    Annoin hänelle lahjan.
    I gave him a present.

    The same suffix can be used to reference to place too. However, Finnish has 2 cases that you can use: illative (-:n / -hVn) and allative (-lle). In some cases they are interchangable.

    Menen kalalle. I go to (a) fish.
    Menen kalaan. I go to (a) fish.

    But in some cases there's a clear difference between the two cases.

    Tänä lauantaina menen koululle.
    This saturday I'm going to the/a school.

    Menen kouluun joka aamu.
    I go to school every morning.

    or

    Menen Vantaaseen.
    I'm going to Vantaa (the river).

    Menen Vantaalle.
    I'm going to Vantaa (the city).

    In many cases though, you can't use allative at all and vice versa.



    GERMAN

    Ich gab ihm (dat.) seine Eintrittskarte.
    I gave him his ticket.

    Dative is used to answer where at? and accusative to answer where to?

    Dann gingen wir ins Kino (acc.).
    Then we went to the movies.

    Während dem Film waren wir im Kino (dat.).
    During the film we were at the movies.

    SWEDISH

    Simple.

    Jag skrev ett brev till dig.
    I wrote a letter to you.

    Vi åkte till Helsingfors.
    We went to Helsinki.
     
    Last edited:

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    I think this just works in case lacking languages.
    For example you don´t need a preposition in German because the article or personal pronoun shows the case. "Ich gab es ihm" - "I gave it him" (lit.)

    "Ich gab dem Mann das Buch" (nominative,dative,accusative)
    "Dem Mann gab ich das Buch" (dat, nom.,acc)
    "Das Buch gab ich dem Mann" (acc, nom, dat)

    "I gave the man the book"
    "I gave the book to the man"

    "zu" (to) always requires the dative, but it indicates movement

    e.g. "Ich gehe zu meiner Mutter" (I go to my mom)
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Japanese expresses cases by postpositions attached to the end of the noun. The dative postposition (indirect object) is -ni, and the allative (place to go) postposition is -e.
    1. kare ni chokorēto o age-ta.
    Pronoun DATIVE chocolate ACCUSATIVE give-PAST
    2. hikōki de Tōkyō e it-ta.
    air plane INSTRUMENTAL Tokyo ALLATIVE go-PAST

    In fact -ni can function as an allative postposition. Sentence 3 is as grammatical as 2.
    3. hikōki de Tōkyō ni it-ta.

    The small difference between two allatives is that -ni focuses on the destination of motion while -e on the process of motion. Oh by the way, postpositions need to take -no in order to modify a noun but -ni (both as dative and allative) cannot take -no.

    4. kare e/*ni-no okurimono
    a present to him
    5. Tōkyō e/*ni-no ryokō
    a trip to Tokyo
     

    amikama

    a mi modo
    עברית
    In Hebrew the preposition אל and the prefix refer both to person and place.

    נתתי לדני את הספר - I gave the book to Danny.
    הלכתי לבית הספר - I went to the school.

    דיברתי אל דני - I spoke to Danny.
    הלכתי אל הים - I went to the sea.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Perkele, the im-example is not what I mean. I am talking to the 'original' dative, as one of the objects of a verb (as with to give, to lend, to grant, not after prepositions that cannot be dropped).

    But the evidence seems to sustain that there is a clear link between that dative and the 'locative' preposition...

    Joannes: can you illustrate the locative 'aan' in Dutch ?
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    In Portuguese it works like in French, but in many parts of Brazil it's common to find the prepositions em em para for movement, which is not standard, though.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    In the meantime I have come to realize that in Dutch there are two ways of describing the sending of letters to someone::
    - you can een brief sturen naar iemand, which seems fairly material (it seems to focus on the letter as such)
    - you can also iemand een brief sturen/ aan iemand een brief sturen [the real dative, using a prep. or a real grammatical dative without a prep.), and then we seem to refer to the act of passing a message (focusing more on the content)..
    However, I suppose few native speakers distinguish between the two meanings...
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    How can you translate in your language - if you can at all -
    I gave it TO him ?

    Can that preposition (or ...) refer to both dative and to place, is my question, as one might conclude
    from ENG to (both dative and direction),
    from FRE à, ...
    DUT aan is not considered a reference to a movement...

    The background is : is there any evidence for corroborating Steven Pinker's hypothesis that datives were originally referring to a movement in space?
    We hardly can postulate anything about "datives in general", I believe. We cannot be even entirely sure that human languages are monophyletic, to begin with.
    Anyway, in modern Russian similar verbs simply take dative arguments with no prepositions (я дал это ему), while for spatial uses one needs a prepositional phrase of some kind (e.g. я подошёл к нему - I walked to him). Note that there are many nuanced Russian counterparts of English "to" ("в" and "на" when used with the accusative case can be roughly translated as "into" and "onto" respectively, but there are also "до" vs. "к", the former being of "limiting" nature - by the way, that's an exact cognate of "to").

    In Early Old Russian, if I remember correctly, plain datives could have been used spatially as well.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    SWEDISH

    Simple.

    Jag skrev ett brev till dig.
    I wrote a letter to you.

    Vi åkte till Helsingfors.
    We went to Helsinki.
    Anyone who could comment on the various meanings of "till"? I suppose it is something like "to"...
    We hardly can postulate anything about "datives in general", I believe. We cannot be even entirely sure that human languages are monophyletic, to begin with.
    Anyway, in modern Russian similar verbs simply take dative arguments with no prepositions (я дал это ему), while for spatial uses one needs a prepositional phrase of some kind (e.g. я подошёл к нему - I walked to him). Note that there are many nuanced Russian counterparts of English "to" ("в" and "на" when used with the accusative case can be roughly translated as "into" and "onto" respectively, but there are also "до" vs. "к", the former being of "limiting" nature - by the way, that's an exact cognate of "to").

    In Early Old Russian, if I remember correctly, plain datives could have been used spatially as well.
    0. My only basis for the question is the semantic idea (hunch) that there is something directional in that somewhat ambiguous sentence I mentioned in #14 and in datives in general and I wondered whether that is expressed in any way, or suggested. I am not supposing they have a common root (language) or something. Giving for example takes a valency of 3 ; subject, object, indirect object - and I think that must be universal due to the underlying concept of giving.
    1. We also have datives with and without a prep. but strictly speaking the naar-part of the sentence in #14 is not a dative but an adverbial of direction, which Id' rather call an object of direction (as sending semantically implies a direction)
    2. Your examples from Russian remind me of German, where you have the same phenomenon.
    3. Could you illustrate that statement on eearly Russian by means of a simple example?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    3. Could you illustrate that statement on eearly Russian by means of a simple example?
    For example, "приде ст҃ полкъ Кыевоу" ("Svyatopolk came to Kiev", in the original orthography).
    It should be noted that the spatial dative normally meant coming to something without entering it (much like modern Russian "до"+gen. works).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks. That confirms what I said about German: here zu versus in, I guess… Now I do wonder: can that be called a dative? I meant a semantic dative, i.e., an indirect object...
    It all depends on how the language in question treats arguments of verbs with generic dative meanings. If they are treated identically to certain spatial constructions, there is no reason to separate them. Otherwise, it's problematic to call those adverbials "dative".
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Now, do not tell anyone but my hypothesis is that the dative used to be a spatial object first but was then grammaticalised into a dative… ;-)
    It well may be true for some languages. The general scope, however, is too immense to make any such generalizations possible at all.
    People speak languages for many, many millenia. The upper limit of the more or less objective proto-language reconstruction is about 8 thousand years. If there ever was any common proto-language, it's older by an order of magnitude at least - the time more than sufficient to completely rebuild the syntax, morphology, phonetics and vocabulary several times (which is quite likely to happen, because languages are in a permanent flux), essentially erasing all the information about the states which existed before. Therefore it's also quite likely that languages acquired specific grammatical means to express dative meanings many times, probably several times during a very long evolution of their own branch, independently.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Just exploring, you know, to see where it does make sense... My main focus is (3), whether that connection could be proved in languages by looking at the present or past situation.
    Would you not agree that
    (1) Giving has a valency of three in all languages? S, DO, IO (forget about names here)
    (2) Giving implies a transfer:
    (3) That transfer is [used to be?] very often spatial, but may have move to a less literal transfer, as in giving criticism, etc.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    (1) Giving has a valency of three in all languages?
    Don't forget that some languages theoretically may lack the concept entirely, or choose a different perspective for the basic verb (e.g. "take from smb", with possible morphosemantic derivates; for example, a causative formed from such verb could become an equivalent to "to give"). Note how the same IE root "*nem-" apparently was related to both giving and taking.
    Of course, as long as there is some semantic equivalent for giving, it naturally has three semantic valencies (non-bound and syntactically expressed) simply by definition of the concept.
    (2) Giving implies a transfer:
    (3) That transfer is [used to be?] very often spatial
    It's hard to disagree.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Interesting point of view... You might be right. I checked on nem- and you are right of course (and again I am amazed at how one root develops in so many different ways)... I'd love to find more illustration of such contronyms...
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top