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ACCUSATIVE AND DATIVE CLITICS

Accusative and Dative Clitics


in Southern Macedonian and Northern Greek Dialects
Eleni Buarovska
University of Skopje Sts. Cyrill and Methodius
The paper deals with certain aspects of the process of Balkanization,1 a term used
in linguistics to denote a convergent, unifying phenomenon as opposed to its
modern political meaning of separatism and fragmentation. The aim of this paper
is to render support for the hypothesis 2 that Greek syntax has influenced the
syntax of the neighboring South Slavic dialects. The above thesis will be
substantiated by looking into two interrelated diachronic processes: (1) the
merger of accusative and dative clitics within the verb phrase; and (2) the
penetration of the preposition na (indirect object marker) into direct object
constructions.
In other words, it will be argued that the polyfunctionality of Greek dative
clitics pushes the adverbal dative to be expressed in a different way from the
adnominal in the Northern dialect, thereby causing isomorphism of the accusative
and dative constructions. At the same time, taking into consideration the
language contact situation in the region, this dative shift or, more precisely, the
above mentioned isomorphism, indirectly enables the intrusion of the preposition
na with the accusative into the southernmost Slavic dialects.
These two structural changes have taken place in Southern Macedonian
dialects which have been exposed more than other dialects to the effects of the
Balkanization process (cf. Topoliska 1995b). While the second phenomenon
was first recorded at the end of the 19th century, 3 researchers of the southern
dialects have registered and described the above phenomena without referring to
the causes of their emergence (with the notable exception of Topoliska 1995a).
Thus, a systematic, explanatory study of both phenomena is lacking.
In arguing that the two processes in the southernmost Slavic language
systems were caused by contact with Northern Greek dialects, a plausible etiology
and a chronology of the analyzed changes will be offered. By comparing
diachronic and synchronic evidence I will try to achieve two complementary
goals: (1) show that due to the acceptance of the Northern Greek grammatical

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pattern the first process resulted in the merger of the accusative and the dative
pronominal clitics in South Slavic Macedonian dialects; and (2) offer a plausible
explanation for the total loss of the formal borderline between the constructions
that express direct and indirect dependence of the verb in these dialects.
1. Formally, the functions of direct and indirect relations in Standard
Macedonian (St.Mac) and Modern Greek4 (M.Gr) are distinguished by the
obligatory presence of their exponents presented in the table below:
DAT.

1sg
2sg
3sg(m)
(n)
(f)
1pl
2pl
3pl

St.Mac
mi
ti
mu
mu
i
ni
vi
im

ACC.
M.Gr
mu
su
tu
tu
tis
mas
sas
tus/tis/ta

St.Mac
me
te
go
go
ja
ne
ve
gi

M.Gr
me
se
ton
to
tin
mas
sas
tus/tis/ta

In Standard Macedonian the above pronominal clitics always occupy the


preverbal position to the left of the verb. Enclitic use is reserved for the
imperative and present participial forms (Joseph and Philippaki-Warburton
1987:213). Modern Greek manifests an identical linearization of the clitics to
Standard Macedonian before a finite indicative verb (1), as well as after nonindicative and non-finite verbal forms (2 and 3):
(1)
St.Mac:
M.Gr:

e
tha

mu
tu

FUT

ACC:3SG:M DAT:3SG:M give:PRES:1SG

I will give it to him.

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go
to

dadam
doso

ACCUSATIVE AND DATIVE CLITICS


(2)
St.Mac:
M.Gr:

daj
dose

mu
tu

go!
to!

give:IMP:2SG DAT:3SG:M ACC:3SG:M

Give it to him!
(3)
St.Mac:
M.Gr:

davaji
dinontas

mu
tu

go
to

give:PRES.PART

DAT:3SG:M

ACC:3SG:M

giving it to him
The dative clitics in the noun phrase express possession or belonging 5:
(4)
St.Mac:
M.Gr:

erka
i
kori

mi
mu

DEF:F:SG daughter:F:SG

I:DAT

my daughter
According to the syntactic behavior described above, the clitics have a dual
distribution: (1) adverbal, before or after the verb, constituting the verb phrase;
and (2) adnominal, after the noun phrase as its constituent.
In adverbal position, the clitics more precisely the proclitics perform
two functions: they can serve to express either direct or indirect dependence of
the verb.6 In the adnominal position they become enclitics and denote
belonging.7 In Standard Macedonian the dative enclitics are used as functional
substitutes of possessive pronouns only when they co-occur with nouns whose
referents are single (never plural) members of the immediate family:

(5)

Sg:
Pl:

FAMILY
erka mi my daughter
*erki mi my daughters

OTHER
*raka mu his hand
*race mu his hands

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The limited distribution of Standard Macedonian dative clitics in the noun phrase
is thus semantically motivated8 such that the Balkan non-Slavic possessive model
with dative clitics is used in Standard Macedonian only for rendering existential
relations of the type: x is a relative of y (e.g., if x is I, y is sister of mine)
formalized as (6):
(6)

NPy
sestra mi
sister I:DAT CL
my sister

< NPdatx
< sestra na mene
sister PREP I:DAT PRON
sister of me

By contrast, Greek manifests a wider distribution of adnominal dative enclitics:


they express belonging not only with nouns that refer to family members, but with
nouns that have an unlimited range of referents living beings, objects, abstract
notions. Accordingly, the morphosyntactic (Balkan) model for expression of
belonging with dative enclitics is productive in Modern Greek and unproductive
in Standard Macedonian due to the semantic constraint single family member:
FAMILY
(7)
M.Gr:
St.Mac:

i kori
mu
the daughter my
erka mi
daughter my
my daughter

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i kores
mu
the daughters my
moite erki
my-the daughters
my daughters

ACCUSATIVE AND DATIVE CLITICS

OTHER
(8)
M.Gr:
St.Mac:

to heri mu
the hand my
mojata raka
my-the hand
my hand

i psihi mu
the soul my
mojata dua
my-the soul
my soul

The model with adjectivized possessive (formalized by possessive pronoun) is


typical of all Slavic languages. In Standard Macedonian the Slavic model is
used for all kinds of relations: possessive proper (mojata kua my house) and
two possessive-existential (mojata raka my hand, majka mi my mother). We
can conclude then that the Balkan syntactic model for expression of possession
(genitive relation) has not been fully accepted in Standard Macedonian. 9
1.1. Contemporary Northern Greek dialects manifest a facultative alternation of
both accusative and dative forms in the dative function, although in the past the
accusative clitic (e.g., ton) was used exclusively in the spoken language
(Browning 1969:123).
Standard Greek

Northern Greek

Accusative

ton vlepo him I see


tin vlepo her I see

ton1 vlepo
tin1 vlepo

Dative

tu1 dino
tis1 dino

ton2 dino him I give


tin2 dino her I give

Genitive

i mana tu2/*ton
i mana tis2/*tin

i mana tu2/*ton
i mana tis2/*tin

It can be hypothesized then that the surface exponents of the genitive and the
dative relation clashed in the Northern Greek dialects: in a contact situation the
need arose for a sharper formal distinction between these two functions. This in

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turn gave impetus to the spread of the accusative clitics expressing the dative
relation as a kind of common casus generalis for formalizing all verbal
dependence relations. In other words, the tendency to replace the dative proclitic
(tu1) with the accusative proclitic (ton 2) is due to the syncretism of the dative
enclitic (tu2) used adnominally. The two competing homophonous forms strove
for formal functional independence. Hence the genitive function (adnominal)
became morphologically distinct from the dative function (adverbal).
On the semantic level we are dealing with motivation that springs from the
opposition between relations of possession and dependence10 (which does not
have to be encoded formally, e.g., English her vis--vis his/him). On the
syntactic plane, a surface motivation is at play, manifested by the need to
distinguish between the two different syntagmatic positions of the syncretic
markers of the dative relation, namely adverbal vs. adnominal position.
It is significant that the opposition between the two functions is neutralized
in the Greek plural clitics. In Standard Greek the exponent of 1pl and 2pl is the
single syncretic form mas (1pl) and sas (2pl), respectively:

(9)

adnominal
to
spiti
mas
DEF:SG:N house:SG:N
we:DAT:1PL
our house

(10) Mas

kserun.

adverbal
Mas

tilefonun.

we:DAT:1PL know:PRES:3PL

we:DAT:1PL call:PRES:3PL

They know us.

They call us.

Moreover, in 3pl, beside the unmarked form for masculine gender tus, there are
feminine and neuter forms (tis, ta); they are used only as proclitics in adverbal
position. Thus, when tus is used adnominally the gender opposition is
neutralized:

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ACCUSATIVE AND DATIVE CLITICS

(11) Tus / tis / ta ksero.


they:ACC,3PL,M/they:ACC,3PL,F/they:ACC,3PL,N
I know them.
(12) to spiti
tus/*tis/*ta
DEF:SG:N house:SG:N they:DAT:3PL
their house
The above distinction in (11) and (12) shows that in the plural there is a complete
syncretism of the genitive, dative and accusative clitics when they are used
adnominally, and only partial syncretism (dative and accusative) in adverbal
position. This pattern gives support for the eventual syncretism of dative and
accusative in the singular. What we are dealing with then is a case of analogy.
1.2. The fusion of the markers of the two case relations has been recorded in
those Lower Vardar Slavic Macedonian dialects that were exposed to a strong
Greek influence. The tendency to expand the use of the accusative clitics
functioning as universal markers of the verb-object relation is witnessed in
Mileti's example from Vatilak (cited by Topoliska 1995a:97), in which go
(ACC) is used instead of mu (DAT) in the second clause. The Northern Greek
equivalent for both mu and go is the accusative/dative ton.
(13) on mu hvrli kluovite i go veli
he him threw the keys and him says
he threw the keys to him and told him
Following the Greek syntactic model the same analogy mechanisms operated in
example (14) yielding the use of the accusative ya/tin instead of the syncretic
dative-genitive i/tis:
(14) majka
i mana

i
tis

DEF mother she:DAT

ya
tin

veli (ya instead of i)


lei

she:ACC

say:PRES.3SG

her mother says to her

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According to our hypothesis the replacement of the dative clitic in the above
example has occurred in order to maintain the difference between the adnominal
and adverbal position. Note, however, Topoliska's (1995a) opinion that ... we
are dealing here with a tendency only, not a consistent rule. She accounts for the
limited distribution of this phenomenon through the loss ... of dynamic
continuum of syntactic processes that emerged and were reinforced under the
pressure of various interference processes.
2. The second phenomenon in Southern Macedonian dialects which was also
formed under Greek influence is the insertion of the preposition na into
accusative constructions of the type [na + noun phrase]. The spread of
prepositional structures with na begins in the dative and expands into the
possessive construction.11 According to Topoliska (1995a:93) ... due to the
loss of morphological dative and taking into consideration the very limited range
of nouns which have morphological accusative, the opposition accusative vs.
dative can only be emphasized with analytic constructions. Thus, in the
following example from the same source, the preposition na is inserted before the
definite noun phrase:
(15) yas
I

gu

vidu

na

he:ACC

see:AOR.1SG

PREP child:DEF.SG.N

I saw the child.


as a contrast to the indefinite in
yas
vidu
I
see:AOR.1SG
I saw a child.

dete
child:SG.N

Compare with the dative construction:


mu dava na deteto
he gives to the child

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deteto

ACCUSATIVE AND DATIVE CLITICS

The preposition na is a regular bearer of dative relation in the standard language,


but in Southern Macedonian dialects it also indicates direct subordination
encoded by the accusative.
Koneski (1986:202) writes that the above
phenomenon was common in the middle of the 19th century (from evidence in the
Kulakia gospel and Verkovi's collection), as well as at the end of the 19th
century in the region of Kostur (Kastoria), Struga and Debar. The direct naobject is recorded as referring predominantly to animate objects as in (16), which
suggests compliance with the animacy constraint:
(16) toj ne poslua na enata mu
he didnt listen/obey to his wife
Koneski (1986) assumes that this construction has probably spread under the
influence of the Aromanian language (preposition + direct object construction as
in example (17) has been registered in some Aromanian dialects), but remarks
that Maecki could not find this type of structure in all Aromanian dialects.
(17) l vizdui pi Taki
I saw to Taki.
Topoliska (1995a:95), however, believes that this construction is a syntactic
innovation resulting from contact with the Greek language: ... it spreads in the
dialects which undergo major interference on the part of non-Slavic Balkan
languages, above all Greek; i.e., in the dialects in which the inherited Slavic
morphosyntactic system is in the process of retreat.
2.1. We can hypothesize that the na-accusative change probably involves a long
process carried out in several stages:
a.
fusion of the long accusative and dative pronominal forms (mene,
tebe, etc);
b.
spread of the preposition na into the accusative nominal (and
pronominal) constructions denoting a referentially identified individual
only; and

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10

c.
suspension of the animacy constraint the na-accusative NP can
refer to inanimate objects.
The replacement of dative long pronouns by the analytical construction [na +
accusative pronoun] has resulted in the generalization of accusative long
pronominal forms. This in turn has probably facilitated the spread of the
preposition na by analogy with the dative construction. Topoliska (1995a)
claims that the dative marker na, due to the semantics of the dative relation
expressing a transaction between (two) human participants has become a marker
of an animate agent, a beneficient. She cites numerous examples (recorded by
Vatroslav Oblak [1896]) with the animacy constraint applied to the referent of the
accusative NP:
(18) pitam na mojta ena
ask to my wife
(19) va ovek me kara na men
this man me scolds to my/myself
Gob (1961/2-1963/4) gives examples registered in the
thirties of the 20th century by Mazon and Vaillant, and
Maecki:
(20) i go zve na deteto
and he called to the boy
(21) uvrzajte na negu
tie/arrest to him
Topoliska (1995a:97) suggests that the preposition-marker na first co-occurred
with nouns denoting human referents and later its usage became more common
with pronouns. This is supported by the following examples 12:
(22) go viknuvaat na nego
they call to him

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11

(23) na nas ne kanija na sfadba


to ourselves us invited-they to a wedding
it was us they invited to a wedding
However, in the dialectal material exploring that region (Koneski 1986, Peev
1983, Topoliska 1995a) I have found a few examples with inanimate (rather
non-personal) referents which suggests that the process of analogy was extended
even further.
(24) putile na ortomata
they threw to the rope
(25) zede malku smola i ja izbria na masata
took a little wax and wiped to the table
(26) dojde ain vlk vearta, go izede na kembeto
came a wolf that evening and ate to the tripe/stomach
(27) fstaci vikat Bugarto na kikiritkite
pistachios call the Bulgarians to peanuts
the Bulgarians call peanuts pistachios
(28) udril na kuleno
he hit to his knee
(29) gu vjahum na konut
mount-I to the horse
2.2. In spite of the limited distribution of the accusative na-constructions, the
fact that they do exist undermines the thesis of purely semantic-based change and
provides grounds for establishing additional syntactic motivation. The above
discussion suggests that this syntactic impetus may lie in the structure of the
Northern Greek accusative construction.
To support the thesis of semantico-syntactical motivation of this change and
to account for its rise and spread in a neighboring, genetically distant dialect we

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12

should first look at the dative and accusative constructions in Northern Greek
dialects. Comparison of the following two examples (in which the first clitic is in
parenthesis to indicate that the doubling of the object in Greek is optional)
confirms that ton functions as an operator of grammatical dependence, i.e., as a
surface marker of the verb-object relation, irrespective of whether the following
slot is filled with a direct or indirect object.
Northern Greek

Standard Macedonian

Acc. (Ton) ipa ton andra. Mu rekov na


said-I
the man
him said-I to
I told the man.

maot
man-the

Dat. (Ton) ida ton andra. Go gledam


saw-I
the man
him saw-I
I saw the man.

maot
man-the

The preposition na fills the syntagmatic position opened by the finite verb. In
Northern Greek (N.Gr.) dialects this object position is filled with ton or other
corresponding accusative proclitics. In Southern Macedonian (So.Mac.) dialects
the preposition na was perceived as a functional analogue of ton and therefore
copied in direct government, as the following table illustrates 13:
DAT.
So.Mac.
Mu velam na X
N.Gr. Ton leo ton X
say-I to
X

ACC.
Go gledam
Ton vlepo
see-I

na X
ton X
X

The resultant state in case relations can be schematized as a proportional


analogy14:
Northern Greek:

ACC as indirect object

ACC as direct object

Southern Mac.:

na+NP as indirect object

na+NP as direct object

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13

It can be concluded that two consecutive inter-dependent processes have taken


place in Greek Macedonian (and other Northern Greek dialects) and Southern
Slavic Macedonian dialects:
(a) replacement of the dative clitics with the accusative due to the need for
syntactic differentiation between adnominal and adverbal position.
Contrary to what happened in the Northern Greek dialects this process was
not fully completed in neighboring Slavic Macedonian dialects. Its limited
distribution in Southern Macedonian and absence of retention classify the
change as discontinuous.
(b) insertion of na into accusative constructions. This innovation resulted in
the loss of the formal boundary between constructions denoting direct and
indirect dependence. The change was initiated by the Northern Greek
dialectal syntactic model and had a wider distribution than the first process.
Consequently, the na-accusative construction is still common in some
southern dialects (e.g., Enidje-Vardar/Yanica), but with a more limited
referential scope (i.e., it is used only with nouns denoting personal names
maximally determined persons;15 see examples 30 and 31).
(30) gu videh na Taki
saw-I to Taki
(31) *gu videh na uveka
saw-I to the man
2.3. The above analysis shows that the first syntactic change was triggered by
semantic reasons, that is, by the need for formal distinction between categories of
possession and subordination, as well as syntactic, the syntagmatic distinction
between NP and VP constituents. The second change was syntactically
motivated, though semantically constrained, and was caused by the tendency
toward symmetry and syntactic leveling between the two language systems. As a
result, the two dialects emerged with an isomorphic structure of their respective
verb phrases.

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14

Both changes should be viewed as products of intensive contact among


different genetically distant languages on a comparatively small territory (central
Macedonia). The simplification of the clitic case paradigm in Northern Greek
dialects is an example of a complex, (yet internally) motivated change from more
marked structures to less marked. On the other hand, it might be attributed to the
outside pressure of neighboring non-Greek diasystems (Turkish, Slavic,
Aromanian, Albanian). The bilingual speakers of these communities (particularly
Aromanian merchants and clergy) may have instigated the change in their
contacts with the local Greek population.16
The second change is an example of externally motivated change. The
social context the cultural pressure of the more prestigious Greek language
within which the change occurred determined the direction and the degree of
interference (cf. Thomason and Kaufman 1988:23). In addition to the favorable
social conditions for language interference, a structural tendency for
simplification of the Southern Slavic case paradigm contributed to the acceptance
of the innovation. The Greek influence on the southernmost Slavic dialects was
great enough to cause a structural change in the syntax of the verb phrase, thus
further leveling out the case (pronominal) system and generally contributing to
the convergent development of both diasystems.
Notes
1. Balkanization should not be seen as a single process but rather as a series of different
changes affecting different parts of the grammars of two or more neighboring languages,
changes that have resulted in their mutual structural similarity. It would be more precise to
consider Balkanization as the outcome of processes of accommodation and convergence in the
usage of bilingual speakers.
2. As found in Topoliska (1995a:93).
3. See Oblak 1896, as discussed in Topoliska 1995a.
4. Traditionally, the dative short pronominal forms in Modern Greek are called genitive, due
to the syncretism of their forms (except for plural tis and ta).
5. In Modern Greek the possessive pronominal forms are formally identical with the weak
indirect object pronominal forms in these two functions. However, Joseph (to appear) claims
that phonological divergence is underway in Modern Greek to separate the functions in third
person.

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15

6. Joseph (1983) convincingly argues that left-placed clitics are finiteness markers of the verb
they precede.
7. Koneski (1967:165) claims that the dative withstood the spread of the accusative the longest.
With the loss of the genitive, the dative became the only case for expression of ownership
because it found a parallel in the other Balkan languages in which the dative-genitive form was
alive.
8. For more discussion on Balkan case systems see Topoliska 1985, 1993 and 1996a.
9. For discussion of the use of dative of possession in Bulgarian vs. Macedonian see Topoliska
1996b.
10. Mackridge states that [i]t is perhaps possible to trace the origin of the dative genitive in
Modern Greek as being precisely that the genitive indicates possession, the consequences of
harisa to vivlio tu Yani (I gave / as a present the book to Yani) -> to vivlio ine tu Yani (the
book is of Yani).
11. According to Koneski (1967:165): The replacement of the dative serving as an indirect
object with na-constructions has its origin in the dative of possession. The use of the same
prepositional na-construction both for indirect object and for rendering possessive meaning is
due to the fact that it replaces the same dative case form. Thus, mu rekov na ovekot (I said to
the man) and nivata na ovekot (the field of the man) can be traced to the older dative
construction in both cases: mu rekov oveku (tomu) (I said to the man (that one's)) and nivata
oveku (tomu) (the field of the man (that one's)).
12. The examples are from Karanfilovski 1992.
13. Koneski's (1967:168) evidence may serve as support for this thesis. In the translation of the
Bible into the dialect of Boboica (in Southern East Albania) the Greek article tu in a
possessive construction with a proper a name A nie sme tu Moisi We are tu Moses is
only a marker of a possession relation.
14. I am obliged to Brian Joseph for this suggestion.
15. The examples were given to me by informants from this area.
16. The author of Lexicon Tetraglosson (part of Didaskalia), a priest and teacher, Daniel, wrote
the Greek and the Aromanian versions (published in 1802; see Niev 1977). A priest, Stefan,
from Ohrid, who was, as Daniel, of Aromanian descent, translated the Macedonian column in
Tetraglosson. Evidence of the Aromanian role in the hellenization process can be found in
Daniels Didaskalia (Niev 1977) and Martin-Leake's Researches in Greece (1814). Taking
into consideration the fact that the bi/multilingual Aromanian speakers acquired Greek as a
second language, there was a natural tendency on their part to simplify asymmetrical
grammatical patterns (Buarovska 1996). Moreover, being mostly sheep breeders and

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16

merchants (Wace and Thompson 1914; Skendi 1980), in other words more mobile than other
ethnic groups, they could have played a more active role in the diffusion of Balkan language
innovations.

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ELENI BUAROVSKA