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Variation in DativesA Microcomparative Perspective$
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Beatriz Fernandez and Ricardo Etxepare

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199937363

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937363.001.0001

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Feminine Bleeds Dative: The Syntax of a Syncretism Pattern

Feminine Bleeds Dative: The Syntax of a Syncretism Pattern

(p.189) Chapter 7 Feminine Bleeds Dative: The Syntax of a Syncretism Pattern
Variation in Datives

Thomas Leu

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the noun phrase internal distribution of the German dative and genitive morphs m, r, and s and analyzes them as contextual allomorphs of a single morpheme the author calls OK (Oblique Kase). OK, it is claimed, is categorially distinct from nominative and accusative determiner/adjective agreement. This is supported by six syntactic environments in which the position of an OK exponent differs from that of strong adjectival agreement, as well as from that of the other OK exponents. In fact, the positions of the dative m and of the feminine r are reminiscent of the two DP-internal possessor positions known from Szabolcsi’s work on Hungarian. The consequences are important: (i) the superficial syncretism pattern in German oblique case marking is epiphenomenal and hence resolved without reference to morphological means such as underspecification, and (ii) the distribution of dative and genitive morphology does not inform but rather obscures an analysis of the German weak/strong adjectival declension alternation, the two being separate phenomena.

Keywords:   syncretism, case-gender morphosyntax, contextual allomorphy, inflectional parallelism, adjectival agreement, German, Swiss German

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