Accusative sickness? A brief epidemic in the history of German

Tonya Kim Dewey, Stephen Mark Carey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Germanic languages that retain case marking and oblique subjects may undergo a change in argument structure over time. Nominative Sickness in Germanic has been demonstrated by Eythórsson (2002) and Barodal (2009, 2011) for verbal arguments in which obliques are replaced with the nominative. Additionally, formerly accusative subjects become dative, a process widely referred to as Dative Sickness or Dative Substitution in the international literature. Dative Sickness is found across the development of several Germanic Languages (Barodal 2011; Dunn et al. 2017). However, a change in case marking from a dative subject to an accusative subject is not well attested. The following examination explores instances in which Dative Subject Constructions in Old High German experience Accusative Sickness in Middle High German. That is, they start occurring with an accusative argument instead of the earlier, historically correct, dative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNon-Canonically Case-Marked Subjects
Subtitle of host publicationThe Reykjavik-Eyjafjallajokull Papers
EditorsJohanna Barddal, Stephen Mark Carey, Na'ama Pat-El
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9789027201478
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameStudies in Language Companion Series
ISSN (Print)0165-7763

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Norwegian Research Council for supporting the early phases of this research under the auspices of the NonCanCase project (grant nr. 205007). We especially thank Jóhanna Barðdal, the lead researcher, who read countless versions of this article and without whom none of this work would have been possible. We are also grateful to the reviewers and colleagues who have provided feedback, particularly Na’ama Pat-El and Þórhallur Eyþórsson. Preliminary versions of this article have been presented at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Bergen, Freiburg University, Germany, the Annual Conference of the Modern Language Association, the International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the University of Iceland, the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America and at the University of Ghent, Belgium.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Benjamins Publishing Company.


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