This article analyzes the nature of Differential Object Marking (DOM) in Basque varieties. It demonstrates that, despite their identical dative morphology, DOM objects display a different syntax to goal indirect objects. Based on the licensing of depictive secondary predication and on the absolutive marking of non-human and indefinite objects, it argues that DOM objects are generated in a direct rather than indirect object configuration. Moreover, given the tight relation between case and agreement in ditransitive constructions and the possibility to check Case in Exceptional Case Marking (ECM) contexts, it proposes that dative Case in DOM is structurally checked in an Agree relation against a functional head of the verbal agreement complex. The article thus identifies a different dative argument which has not been previously characterized in this manner: one that does not originate within an applicative or postpositional phrase and checks Case structurally.
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