‘Give’ and take
How dative gi contributed to the decline of ditransitive taki
The Sranan verb taigi ‘say to, tell’ is used when a dative object is identified, but in the 18th and 19th centuries taki ‘say, tell, speak, talk’ served this function. This paper explores the early uses of taki alongside variants taki gi and taki na, which paired the optionally ditransitive verb with an optional dative marker. Working from a corpus of Sranan texts spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, I consider the distributions of the three variants and the distinctive uses of gi and na as dative markers to argue for the eventual triumph and contraction of taki gi, looking to the superstrate and substrate languages for potential models. I submit that taki gi was idiomatized and the string syntactically reanalyzed with the result that gi was reinterpreted as an obligatory, rather than optional, dative marker, and that this reanalysis resulted in the decline of taki as an optionally ditransitive verb.
Published online: 21 August 2009