Article published in:The Diachronic Typology of Non-Canonical Subjects
Edited by Ilja A. Seržant and Leonid Kulikov
[Studies in Language Companion Series 140] 2013
► pp. 35–54
The rise of animacy-based differential subject marking in Dutch
There are different pronouns available to express third person plural subjects in Dutch which differ in several aspects. One of these pronouns, hun ‘them’, was originally an object form, and can thus be considered a quirky subject. Therefore, there is an alternation between two third person pronouns, one of which is in the nominative case and the other in the accusative/dative. This can be characterized as differential subject marking. The question then arises what triggers the alternation. I will argue that the successful rise of the object pronoun as a subject in Dutch can be attributed to an important property of this personal pronoun: it exclusively refers to animate individuals. Purely animacy-based differential subject marking is rare from a cross-linguistic perspective. In order to explain how this special type of differential subject marking came about in Dutch, it is compared with the alternation it originated from: a case of differential object marking in Dutch.
Published online: 29 November 2013
Cited by 1 other publications
Hubers, Ferdy, Thijs Trompenaars, Sebastian Collin, Kees De Schepper & Helen De Hoop
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