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"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi

Stephen Self


AL5313 - Advanced Grammatical Analysis

May 25, 2012

1. Introduction. The Hindi postposition -ko occurs with subject, object, and secondary object NPs in a
variety of relations generally subsumed under the category of case. This study investigates case in Hindi as it relates
to -ko and the phenomenon of Differential Object Marking. Following Spencer (2005), I argue that Hindi has three
morphological cases, one of which, oblique, combines with a secondary series of postpositions to mark the majority
of syntactic functions traditionally associated with case. I further argue that of the chief proposals for the specific
object-marking function of the postposition -ko, namely that it marks animate objects (Mohanan (1994b); Kroeger
(2005); Aissen (2003)) or specific objects (McGregor (1995); Kachru (1980); Snell and Weightman (2003)), the
latter provides the best explanation of the available data. Since this claim effectively renders use of -ko entirely
optional, it raises important questions about possible pragmatic effects on the use of -ko.
I present two arguments to distinguish morphological and syntactic case in Hindi. First, postpositions operate at
the phrasal level, are not repeated on each element of a conjoined phrase, and do not trigger agreement with
modifiers. Second, oblique case forms can be used independently to mark oblique argument goals with verbs of
motion as well as adjuncts.
Next, I present three arguments that -ko should not be analyzed principally as a marker of animate objects. First,
its use with animate NPs is optional, hinging not on animacy but individuation
. Second, while some have claimed that the verbs likhnā 'write', paṛhnā 'read', pīnā 'drink', and banānā 'make' take
only inanimate (and hence not -ko-marked) objects while bulānā 'call' and mārnā 'kill' require animate objects
marked with -ko (Mohanan (1994b:81); Keine (2007:78)), new data show this claim is overstated. Specifically, the
data show that likhnā 'write', paṛhnā 'read', pīnā 'drink', and banānā 'make' may all take inanimate objects marked
with -ko while bulānā 'call' and mārnā 'kill' may take animate objects that are not marked with -ko. This fact raises
the possibility that these verbs are not lexically constrained for (in)animacy, and their optional use of -ko serves a
different function. Third, some have argued that the ability of a Hindi verb to take -ko object marking is a necessary
precondition for the ability of its subject to take the ergative marker -ne in perfective aspect (de Hoop and
Narasimhan (2005:329); Davison (2003a:4)). This dependency is interpreted as reflecting the animacy constraints of
the transitivity hierarchy proposed by Hopper and Thompson (1980). However, the only transitive verbs claimed to
be unable to take ergative -ne, lānā 'bring', bolnā 'speak', and bhūlnā 'forget' (Gair and Wali (1989:50); Kachru
(1980:64); Mohanan (1994b:73); Keine (2007:77); Harley (1946:33)), permit object -ko, a fact which remains hard
for previous analyses to explain. If, however, we remove animacy restrictions from the use of -ko with these verbs,
we have no reason to consider their object marking exceptional.
Linguists have long debated the issue of whether the dative use of -ko can and should be distinguished from an
accusative use (Davison (2004:202-203)). Mohanan (1994b) has provided useful diagnostics and evidence to
formally separate the two uses. In suggesting a more pragmatically-determined basis for "accusative" -ko, the
present study provides another means of disambiguating these uses.
In addressing the area of Differential Object Marking (DOM) (Aissen (2003)), I suggest increased prominence for
the role topicality plays in affecting object-marking. While Aissen has mentioned topicality as a "relevant
dimension" (2003:436, n. 2) in determining DOM, she does not formally integrate the concept into her analysis. I
attempt to do so here.

1.1. Previous work on DOM. In her important 2003 article, Aissen emphasizes that the phenomenon of
Differential Object Marking reflects a tension between the relative prominence of a given object and a principle of
economy whereby overt case-marking is avoided (2003:435). Prominence is assessed principally along the
dimensions of animacy and definiteness, though person and topicality are also relevant considerations (Aissen
(2003:436 and n.2)). Aissen defines an animacy scale whereby humans outrank other animate objects, which in turn

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outrank inanimates, while, on an intersecting definiteness scale, personal pronouns dominate proper names, which in
turn dominate definite NPs, specific indefinite NPs, and non-specific indefinite NPs in that order (Aissen
(2003:437)). The general principle is that the higher an object is in prominence, the more likely it is to receive some
overt case-marking. As might be expected, these scales make testable predictions: if a language employs case-
marking for any inanimate objects, it should mark at least some animate objects as well. If any indefinite objects
take case-marking, then at least some definite objects should also receive case (Aissen (2003:438)).
Aissen notes, however, that different languages implement DOM in quite different ways, privileging one
dimension of prominence over another (2003:437). Biblical Hebrew, for example, has special marking via the
preposed particle ʔɛt for defininte direct objects. Turkish, on the other hand, emphasizes the dimension of specificity
(Enç (1991)). Lazard (1984:279-280) has proposed that for Hindi, the two dimensions of humanness and
definiteness interact significantly, with humanness taking precedence over definiteness. By contrast, Butt (1993)
argues that specificity proves the decisive factor for Hindi/Urdu. 1

That two scholars can explain the same phenomenon in the same language on the basis of two opposing criteria
points to a problem that, as Aissen explains, has proven a stumbling block for the integration of DOM into formal
syntax. "The fact that DOM is characterized in many languages by a great deal of apparent fuzziness has perhaps
reinforced the feeling that the principles underlying DOM are not part of core grammar" (Aissen (2003:439)).
Aissen invokes an Optimality theoretic approach in order to integrate the prominence scales into a formal model by
translating them into constraints. The fact remains, however, that the phenomena of DOM in natural languages are
messy, involving interactions of multiple semantic and syntactic parameters.
A constant running throughout much of the work on DOM, Aissen's in particular, is the emphasis placed on the
semantics of the object NP itself. Aissen writes: "Under this analysis, the presence/absence of overt case is
determined solely by properties of the object" (2003:449, n. 13). Aissen takes a fairly strong view of the role of the
object in determining DOM. Others make more of the interaction of nominal and verbal semantics. For example, de
Hoop and Narasimhan (2005:328, n. 3) observe that an animate noun like bakrā 'goat' is more likely to receive -ko
object-marking with the verb mārnā 'kill' than the verb becnā 'sell'. In her discussion of -ko-marking, Mohanan
(Mohanan (1994b:81 and n. 34)) takes a strong stance on the primacy of verbal semantics in determining object-
marking, arguing that likhnā 'write', paṛhnā 'read', pīnā 'drink', gānā 'sing' and banānā 'make' do not allow objects
marked with -ko, while bulānā 'call' and mārnā 'kill' can take only objects that are marked with -ko. Other verbs, she
observes, such as khojnā 'search for', toḍnā 'break', kāṭnā 'cut', and lānā 'bring' are neutral as to the animacy and
marking of their objects. One problem with both lexically-based approaches is that they make fairly rigid predictions
that do not seem to be born out completely by the available data. We shall return to this subject in section 3.2 below.
Finally, while Aissen makes little of it in her own analysis(2003:436, n. 2), topicality is also a relevant factor in
DOM. Aissen notes topicality is particularly relevant where object case-marking is optional (2003:460, n. 24). In
Spanish, for example, Weissenrieder (1990) has shown that optional object-marking for definite, non-human
animate objects, like cats, to some degree reflects concerns of topicalization. In particular she observes, following
Givón (1976), that subjects are predominantly definite and more often human than not (Weissenrieder (1990:226)).
We tend to talk about definite, human entities more than other topics, and so definite references to human beings
tend to be disproportionately topicalized in our speech. Some languages even impose restrictions on the
indefiniteness of subjects. Hindi provides a good example of this sort of restriction. A bare NP in Hindi, even one
with animate reference, does not permit an indefinite reading when in subject position 1. Weissenrieder observes
that objects fall at the opposite end of the spectrum from subjects: they overwhelmingly tend to be non-topicalized,
inanimate, and indefinite. She writes: "In fact, one of the major tasks of the object noun is to introduce new
information into the discourse, thus explaining why they show up as indefinite more than any other noun phrase"
(Weissenrieder (1990:226)). Under Weissenrieder's analysis, the distinguishability function of object-marking
comes into play when object nouns take on marked properties of topicality and particularization and thus begin to
compete for discourse prominence with subjects that are naturally topicalized and particular.

(1) laṛkī khar-ī thī

girl stand- pfv f sg be. impf f sg
*'A girl was standing.' (Dayal (1992:43))

NB: Butt, like most writers on Hindi/Urdu, treats the two languages interchangeably. I will follow suit, citing examples from both without
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 3
Weissenrieder is one of the few writers to invoke discourse considerations in analyzing DOM. She refers to the
discourse properties of such strong objects that would tend to lead to confusion between subject and object
properties as "role importance" (Weissenrieder (1990:223)), which she correlates with the semantic category of
"individuation" as adumbrated in Hopper and Thompson (1980:252-253). Hopper and Thompson define
individuation as referring "both to the distinctness of the patient from the A[gent] and to its distinctness from its own
background." As Weissenrieder explains, "individuation derives its motivation from the varying roles noun phrases
play in discourse" (1990:229). At the phrase level, highly individuated objects are distinguished by the semantic
properties of NPs, such as animacy and definiteness. At the sentence level, these same characteristics are associated
with the "active, topicalized role of the subject which in turn, must be separated from similar potential for
individuation in the indirect object and in some direct objects by the marking of the latter two. At the discourse
level, subject-like properties of thematic importance may be bestowed on the direct object and thus also motivate
marking" (Weissenrieder (1990:229)). While Weissenrieder's analysis of Spanish DOM is aimed principally at
animal-denoting nouns, two considerations of her approach will prove useful in the discussion of Hindi object-
marking to follow: 1) DOM is sensitive to discourse and pragmatic considerations; and 2) it is variable or optional.
That is, there is no one-to-one correspondence between semantic properties of the NPs and the appearance of special
object marking; even highly individuated objects can appear without special marking. Where special marking does
occur, however, the objects that bear it are more marked than those that do not.

1.2. Dative versus accusative -ko. Before we pass on to the discussion of the facts of case in Hindi and
DOM proper, one more topic bears consideration as a preparatory concern. In the quote from Weissenrieder that
concluded the previous section, she notes that confusion over role importance as a result of individuation and
topicalization is liable to affect not just direct objects but indirect objects as well. This fact is highly significant for
Spanish in particular, since the same special marking for highly individuated direct objects, the preposition a 'to,
for', marks indirect objects as well 2.

(2) a. La mujer vió a otro hombre

def woman see. pret to another man
'The woman looked at another man.'

b. La mujer se dió a otro hombre

def woman self give. pret to another man
'The woman gave herself to another man.'

It turns out that in quite a number of languages, direct object marking in a DOM system is identical to indirect
object (dative case) marking (Aissen (2003:446, n. 10)). Cross-linguistically, the dative case provides the most

common source for DOM direct object marking, a fact which is not surprising given the discussion at the end of
section 1.1. Like subjects and highly individuated direct objects, indirect objects tend to be human, or at least
animate, and definite, or individuated. So it should come as no surprise that, in Hindi, the same formant is used for
both types of marking as well. Herein lies a source of some contention in the literature.
Numerous writers, and especially more traditional grammars, hold to the view that the single morpheme -ko is
polysemous, with both dative and accusative uses (Harley (1946); McGregor (1995); Bhatt and Anagnostopoulou
(1996); (); Keine (2007); Snell and Weightman (2003)). A few, more formally oriented analyses, particularly those
of Mohanan (1994b); (1994a) and Butt (1995); (1993), conclude that the two instances of -ko are homophonous
markers that appear on different grammatical relations and are subject to distinct semantic conditions. One possible
clue to the fact that the two uses of the marker are, in fact, distinct is the apparent strong disfavor shown by some
dialects of Hindi toward a -ko-marked indirect object and a -ko-marked direct object adjacent in the same sentence
(Keine (2007:79)). Mohanan developed an analysis invoking a case-based obligatory onset principle (OCP) that
disallows two adjacent NPs with the same case formant (Mohanan (1994a)) in order to explain the phenomenon.
Though Butt (1995:63-64, n. 16) suggests that this apparent prohibition is a function of Mohanan's particular dialect
of Hindi, and examples of adjacent double-ko structures can readily be found (Bhatt and Anagnostopoulou (1996)),
some writers and Hindi grammars still often repeat the received wisdom that in cases where a -ko-marked indirect

Aissen lists Catalan and Yiddish in addition to Spanish and Hindi.
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object and a -ko-marked direct object collide, the indirect object takes precedence and the direct object must
relinquish its marker. 3

Stronger evidence that dative -ko and accusative -ko should be kept distinct comes from the syntactic facts. For
one, dative -ko is never optional: all indirect objects must be marked with -ko (Butt (1995:17)). Additionally,
Mohanan ((1994b:148-151; 184-186)) has shown that, whereas dative-marked experiencer NPs can occur as both
logical and grammatical subjects of sentences, accusative-marked NPs preserved under passivization can appear
only as logical subjects; they fail subjecthood tests like reflexive binding and control of participial clauses. For these
reasons, it seems best to treat -ko as two different items, whether separate homophonous words or at least a single
marker with distinct, non-overlapping and essentially unrelated functions.
The analysis offered in the present study provides yet another basis on which to distinguish the two domains of -
ko. In arguing that object-marking -ko is largely pragmatically determined, I essentially remove it from the
inventory of syntactic case markers all together, deepening the divide between it and the indirect object marker.

1.3. Structure of the paper. The structure of the remainder of the paper is as follows. In section 2.1, I
consider the facts of the Hindi case system and argue that clitic postpositions constitute an analytic layer of syntactic
marking that sits on top of a genuine case inflection. Then, in section 2.2, I present arguments to the effect that the
primary and secondary postpositions do not behave in ways indicative of a true case system. In 3.1, I begin to
develop the argument that -ko does not primarily mark animacy, and then in 3.1.1 and 3.1.2, I consider -ko marking
with indefinite inanimate nouns and animate nouns that are not marked by -ko. The facts presented in these sections
lead to a brief excursus in 3.1.3 on so-called noun incorporation or pseudo-incorporation in Hindi. Following that, I
move on in sections 3.1.4 and 3.1.5 to consider the relationship between -ko-marking and discourse functions and
what role animacy ultimately does play in the DOM system of Hindi. Finally, I present evidence in section 3.2 to
demonstrate that frequently cited lexical restraints on animacy for certain verbs are not supported in the data.

2. Morphological and syntactic case distinguished. In this section, I argue that Hindi has three
morphological cases, one of which, oblique, combines with a secondary series of postpositions to mark the majority
of syntactic functions traditionally associated with case. I present two arguments to distinguish morphological and
syntactic case in Hindi. First, postpositions operate at the phrasal level, are not repeated on each element of a
conjoined phrase, and do not trigger agreement with modifiers. Second, oblique case forms can be used
independently to mark oblique argument goals with verbs of motion as well as adjuncts. I conclude that -ko and
similar postpositions in Hindi should not be considered as normal inflectional case markers, but are quasi-analytic
markers of syntactic case relations. They take the physical form of enclitics that are, following Spencer (Spencer
(2005)) "non-projecting words" in that the NPs to which they attached remain NPs; the secondary postpositions do
not project an additional phrasal category of their own.

2.1. Layers of functional category marking. Hindi has "at least three layers of forms with case-like
functions" (Masica (1993:231)). Linguistic descriptions have vascillated between analyzing these layers into two
levels of affixes and one of postpositions or one layer of affixes and two of postpositions. As a deciding factor,
Blake offers that if the markers trigger grammatical concord, they should be considered affixes; if they occur only
once in a phrase, usually at its end, however, "there can be some doubt about whether they are inflections or free
forms" (Blake (2001:10-11)).
Agreement on all attributive modifiers within the NP is a feature only of the Layer I forms. These are synthetic
inflections that show agreement for gender, number, and three cases: direct, vocative, and oblique .

See, for instance, Masica (1982:20) and Mohanan (1993:27, n. 13).
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 5
'good boy(s)' 'good girls'
Sg accha laṛka Sg acchī laṛkī
Pl acche laṛke Pl acchī laṛkiyā ̃
Sg acche laṛke Sg acchī laṛkī
Pl acche laṛkõ Pl acchī laṛkiyõ
Sg acche laṛke Sg acchī laṛkī
Pl acch laṛka Pl acchī laṛkiyo

What I have listed as "direct" case in the table above is customarily referred to as nominative case in modern formal
treatments of Hindi syntax. Direct case is the more usual term in Indo-Aryan lingustics and teaching grammars
(Blake (2001:10)). The singular of the direct case is the unmarked form of any given noun. Because this form can

be used for either subject or object, the term direct is preferrable to the misleading nominative. Avoiding the term
nominative saves us from having to admit that direct objects can appear in nominative case, as though an instance of
"quirky case." Direct case is simply the unmarked case; all else being equal, both subjects and objects can be
Oblique case is the form NPs must take when followed by a postpositional clitic. Nouns ending in consonants do
not change their form for singular oblique case: makān 'house M.SG.', mez 'table F.SG' would be the same form for
both direct and oblique cases. DIsambiguation in such cases is achieved through modifier agreement 3.

(3) a. mere makān mẽ

my. obl m sg house. obl m sg in
'In my house'

b. merī mez par

1 sg pos obl f sg table. obl f sg on
'On my table'

Oblique case forms can also be used indepedently, however, to indicate either the semantic role of 'goal' with a
verb of motion or temporal/spatial adverbial phrases functioning as adjuncts.

(4) a. mãĩ apne gā ṽ jā rahā hū ̃

1 sg self pos. obl m sg village. obl m sg go prog be. 1 sg
'I am going to my village.'

b. ve log āgre jā rahe hãĩ

dem people Agra. obl m sg go prog be. prs 3 pl
'They're going to Agra.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:103))

c. sāre din esh karte ho

all. obl m sg day. obl m sg do. prog m pl be. prs 2 pl
'You laze around all day.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:102))

d. carõ taraf bacce khel rahe the

four. obl m pl ways. obl m pl children play prog be. impf 3 pl
'Children (different ones) were playing in different places.' (Dayal (2011a:131))

An important additonal point to note is that temporal and spatial adverbial phrases can also occur with postpositions.
There is no difference in meaning between shām 'in the evening' and shām ko, between āj subah 'this morning' and āj

See, for instance Mohanan (1994b:66).
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subah ko, or between is tarah 'this way' and is tarah se (McGregor (1995:35)). That the oblique case form can be
used independently in these constructions provides good evidence that it is not simply a morphophonemic
alternation on nominal roots before the cliticized postpositions. The specific form a given noun will take in the
oblique is governed by its gender, number, and root type, such that it is necessary to posit an abstract case attribute
in order to generalize across the distinct morphological forms (Spencer (2005:429, 434)).
The Layer II postpositions form a narrow class of enclitic postpositions that combine with NPs in oblique case and
serve to mark the majority of syntactic case relations. The table below is adapted from Mohanan (Mohanan

Case feature Marking

ergative -ne
accusative -ko
dative -ko
instrumental -se
genitive -kā
locative -mẽ 'in, within', -par 'on, at'

For the most part, these are invariant forms; they attach directly to the NP in the oblique case with no alternation
for number, gender, or any other feature or characteristic. A significant exception to this last statement is the
genitive marker kā which in fact changes form to agree with the possessed noun. For a masculine singular possessed
noun, the form is kā; kī for feminine singular. The masculine plural form is ke, and feminine plural, kī again. As
Spencer notes (Spencer (2005:434)), this behavior is highly unusual for a case marker but does parallel the Albanian
"genitive" clitic that precedes the possessed noun and agrees with it in number, gender, and definiteness. A still
further strangeness of this marker lies in the fact that it is also used as the mediating element to bind Layer III so-
called secondary postpositions to NPs. Unlike Layer II forms, Layer III postpositions are true postpositions like
with, before, behind, after; these project a postpositional phrase together with their base NPs. In this medial
function, then, -kā must also take an oblique case ending, for postpositions and postpositional clitics in Hindi do not
attach to NPs in direct case. Thus -kā can also appear in distinct oblique case form for masculine singular and plural,
ke, and feminine singular and plural, kī.

2.2. Postpositions are not cases. The fact of the invariability of the majority of Layer II clitic
postposition forms combined with the fact that the NPs to which the cliticize must themselves be inflected for true,
morphological case would seem to cast significant doubt on their ability to comprise a case system in any normal
sense. Layer II clitics even stand well apart from analytic case-marking particles such as are found in Japanese, for

again the nominals to which they attach are themselves inflected for case and can function alone, without
postposition, as subjects, objects, obliques, and adjuncts. Yet, the fundamental criterion for case in Blake's definition
is the marking of dependent nouns for the type of relation they bear to their heads (Blake (2001:1)). On this
criterion, Layer II forms seem to qualify as case markers. Spencer counters, however, that Blake's definition
provides only a necessary condition for casehood, not a sufficient one (Spencer (2005:434)). The benefit of positing
an abstract attribute of case is the ability it affords us to generalize over varying forms in different word classes that
nonetheless cohere in both agreement properties and syntactic function. Without positing an abstract attribute of
oblique case, we would never be able to properly grasp the agreement properties in such phrases as is baṛe kamre mẽ
'in this big room', where the first three words are all masculine, singular, and oblique. By contrast, the facts of the
(in)famous verb agreement system in Hindi are such that the participles used in compounds with auxiliaries to form
the majority of the tenses and aspects in the language show agreement with the subject or object of a clause by virtue

It does bear mentioning that with personal pronouns special portmanteau forms exist combining the oblique case pronoun with the marker -ko
in a phonologically opaque and unpredictable manner (mujh + ko = mujhe 'to/for me'). More transparent forms that show the compounding of
pronoun and clitic postposition (mujhko) exist alongside these portmanteau forms. Hindi also has similar portmanteau fusions of the oblique
personal pronouns with the emphatic/focus marker hii (mujh + hii = mujhī). As Spencer (2005:445) observes, these latter two forms show that the
opaque OBL + -ko portmanteaus can still be thought of as "the uninterrupted linear sequence of pronoun + postposition or pronoun + emphasis
particle." Thus, they do not pose a problem for the present analysis.
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 7
of its not being marked by a "case" postposition. That is, the verb can agree only with arguments that are not marked
by a Layer II postposition. In example 5a below, the verb is in the default masculine singular form because it is
blocked from agreeing with either the subject or the object by the postpositions -ne and -ko. In 5c, -ko blocks the
participle kharā 'standing' in the predicate from agreeing with gārī 'carriage' in gender. 6

(5) a. Rām= ne kitāb= ko paṛh-ā

Ram=erg book= ko read- pfv m sg.
'Ram read the book.' (Kachru (1980:64))

b. gārī darvāze= par khar-ī kar-o

carriage door= loc stand- pfv f sg make- imp
'Make the carriage stand at the door.'

c. gārī= kō darvāze= par khar-ā kar-o

carriage= ko door= loc stand- pfv m sg make- imp
'Make the carriage stand at the door.' (Harley (1946:33))

Not only do Layer II clitic postpositions not trigger agreement with other clause elements, they in fact operate at
the phrase-level, not the word-level (Mohanan (1995); Butt (1995:64 and n. 17)). We have seen that in an NP
marked for Layer I inflectional case with attributive modifiers, every word must bare the same case marking
individually. Blake discusses this phenomenon under the heading "concordial case" (Blake (2001:7)). Layer II
postpositions, however, operate phrasally and are not repeated on each element of a noun phrase 6.

(6) a. *[kutt- aur ghoṛ] -e

dog and horse obl m sg
'the dog and the horse (obl)'

b. [kutte aur ghoṛe] = ko

dog. obl m sg and horse. obl m sg = ko
'The dog and the horse = ko.'

c. madrās aur kalkatte mẽ

Madras. obl m sg and Calcutta. obl m sg in
'In Madras and Calcutta' (Mohanan (1995:82))

d. in tīn laṛkõ= ko
dem three boys. obl m pl= ko
'These three boys.'

e. *in tīn= ko laṛkõ

dem three= ko boys. obl m pl

f. *in= ko tīn laṛkõ

dem= ko three boys. obl m pl

g. *in= ko tīn= ko laṛko= kõ

dem= ko three= ko boys. obl m pl= ko
(Sharma (1999:4, 7))

The problem of accounting for verb agreement in Hindi has exercised scholars for quite some time. The literature on the subject is vast. A
small sampling of the range of opinion and proposals to account for the facts within a formal framework includes Mohanan (1994b); Saksena
(2009b); Saksena (2009a); Comrie (2009a); Comrie (2009b); Khan (2009); Keine (2007); Spencer (2005); Gair and Wali (1989).
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In the case of coordinated noun phrases, Layer II postpositions may occur on both NPs, especially if there is some
difference in gender or number, or only on the rightmost NP, as in example 7 below.

(7) a. [[laṛkiyõ= ko] aur [laṛkõ= ko]] ṭofī d-o

girls. obl f pl=ko and boys. obl m pl= ko candy give. imp
'Give the girls and boys some candy.'

b. [[laṛkiyõ] aur [laṛkõ]= ko] ṭofī d-o

girls. obl f pl and boys. obl m pl= ko candy give. imp
'Give the girls and boys some candy.' (Butt (1995:64)()

Because Hindi clitic postpositions are largely invariable as to form, block agreement with other clause elements,
apply phrasally, can optionally not appear on each member of coordinated noun phrases, and take scope over the
true inflections that comprise Layer I, it is best not to consider them as case markers in the traditional sense. Rather,
they more resemble analytic particles that serve to signal many of the grammatical relations associated with
syntactic case, though their interaction with both Layer I inflectional morphology and Layer III true postpositions
prevents them from being usefully compared to other systems of analytic case marking such as Japanese. That is,
because direct case can function as a structural case marking for subjects and objects on their own and oblique case
can mark semantic case on goals and adjuncts without postpositions, we cannot say that the case affixes are
redundant, with the postposition bearing alone the burden of marking the relation of dependent nouns to their heads
(Blake (2001:10)). Indeed, when the "genitive" marker mediates between an oblique case NP and a Layer III
postposition, it is the latter element that bears the burden of marking; the Layer II clitic serves only as the glue to
bind Layer III postposition to NP. As we shall see below, we may have reason to call into question whether the
"accusative" clitic -ko marks a relationship between dependent and head at all.

3. -ko and animacy. In this section, I present three arguments that -ko should not be analyzed principally as a
marker of animate objects. First, its use with animate NPs is optional, hinging not on animacy but individuation.
Second, while some have claimed that the verbs likhnā 'write', paṛhnā 'read', pīnā 'drink', and banānā 'make' take
only inanimate (and hence not -ko-marked) objects while bulānā 'call' and mārnā 'kill' require animate objects
marked with -ko (Mohanan (1994b:81); Keine (2007:78)), new data show this claim is overstated. Specifically, the
data show that likhnā 'write', paṛhnā 'read', pīnā 'drink', and banānā 'make' may all take inanimate objects marked
with -ko while bulānā 'call' and mārnā 'kill' may take animate objects that are not marked with -ko. This fact raises
the possibility that these verbs are not lexically constrained for (in)animacy, and the optional use of -ko with their
objects serves a different function. Third, some have argued that the ability of a Hindi verb to take -ko object
marking is a necessary precondition for the ability of its subject to take the ergative marker -ne in perfective aspect
(de Hoop and Narasimhan (2005:329); Davison (2003a:4)). This dependency is interpreted as reflecting the animacy
constraints of the transitivity hierarchy proposed by Hopper and Thompson (1980). However, the only transitive
verbs claimed to be unable to take ergative -ne, lānā 'bring', bolnā 'speak', and bhūlnā 'forget' (Gair and Wali
(1989:50); Kachru (1980:64); Mohanan (1994b:73); Keine (2007:77)), permit object -ko. If we relax animacy
restrictions from the use of -ko with these verbs, we have no reason to consider their object marking exceptional.

3.1. -ko does not principally mark animacy. As noted by Vasishth and Joseph (2008:139-140)), the
morpheme -ko in Hindi has multiple functions, prompting the question of whether it is one polysemous morpheme
or a series of different, homophonous morphemes with distinct properties and distributions. Mohanan (1994b:141-
151) has shown that -ko can non-canonically mark the logical and even grammatical subject of a sentence 8a. -ko
also marks indirect, or secondary, objects 8b , adverbial (particularly temporal) expressions 8c, and infinitives in
non-finite subordinate clauses of instructive sentences 8d. 7

(8) a. Vijay= ko apnī khiḍkī- se cānd dekh-ā

Vijay= ko self poss obl window. obl- from moon appear- pfv m sg

-ko can also be used to mark infinitives in purpose clauses, statements about immediate futurity (i.e. 'about to x', and complements of certain
adjectives like taiyār 'ready', but these uses need not concern us for the present discussion. See McGregor (1995:133-134).
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 9
'Vijay saw the moon from his own window.' (Mohanan (1994b:148))

b. Rita Sita= ko akhbār de-gī

Rita Sita= ko newspaper give- fut f sg
'RIta will give a newspaper to Sita.' (Vasishth and Joseph (2008:139))

c. budhvār= ko ā-o
wednesday= ko come- imp
'Come on Wednesday.' (McGregor (1995:54))

d. Anjum= ne Saddaf= ko hār banā-ne= ko kah-ā

Anjum= erg Saddaf= ko neckalce make- inf. obl= ko say- pfv m sg
'Anjum told Saddaf to make a necklace.' (Butt (1995:62))

The use of -ko that has garnered most attention is its function as direct object marker. In particular, focus has been
on when to use -ko and when not to: that is, which sorts of objects can occur with -ko-marking and which cannot. In
his introductory teaching grammar, Rupert Snell writes tellingly: "A direct object is sometimes marked with ko and
sometimes not; the distinction is often quite subtle not to say elusive!" (Snell and Weightman (2003:67)). As an
example of the controversy, we can cite the disagreement between Mohanan (1994b:13-14) and Butt (1995:58-66)
over the status of -ko-marked infinitives in examples like 8d above. The debate centers on whether -ko should be
regarded primarily as a clausal NP marked as direct object or a non-finite verb with postpoblosed complementizer. 8

Two positions on the object-marking function of -ko with regular NPs predominate in the literature. By far the
majority position holds that -ko-marking correlates with animacy and, secondarily, definiteness (Mohanan (1994b);
Kroeger (2005); Aissen (2003) ; Comrie (1989).; Singh (1994); Keine (2007:78)). A minority of writers take a more
flexible view of the function of -ko, emphazising that it marks primarily specificity or individiuation and thus
indirectly correlates with animacy insofar as human beings (McGregor (1995); Kachru (1980); Snell and
Weightman (2003)). According to the majority view, -ko marks animate direct objects and definite, inanimate
objects. Proponents of this position maintain that "accusative case is used only for animate objects" (Kroeger
(2005:110)) and "[n]on-human, especially inanimate, [patients]...never take ko if they are indefinite, though they
may, and usually do, take ko if they are definite" (Comrie (1989:133)). Mohanan writes: "A widely accepted
generalization with regard to objects in Hindi is that the canonical case for animate objects is ACC..., and the
canonical case for inanimate objects is NOM.... Now, even though the canonical case associations of objects are
animate: ACC...and inanimate: NOM..., an inanimate object can be ACC if it is definite" (1994b:79-80). Harley
(1946:32) offers the following summation: "When the direct object is a person, a proper name, an interrogative or a
personal pronoun, being definite it is put in the inflected form with ko. This rule is occasionally not observed with
persons; occasionally it is observed with inanimate objects to particularize them." This view would then generally
predict that: a) animate nouns should not regularly occur as direct objects without -ko and b) indefinite inanimate
objects should not occur as direct objects with -ko. The question to consider is whether the data bear out these

3.1.1. Can -ko mark indefinite inanimates?. It proves difficult, if not impossible, to find examples of
indefinite inanimate nouns marked with -ko. Mohanan (1993) and Singh (1994) both rule out the possibilty. The
examples they cite are illustrative of the issue.

(9) a. Ilā= ne ek paudhā uṭhā-yā

Ila= erg one plant lift- pfv f sg

See Vasishth and Joseph (2008) for further details on this issue, as well as the results of the authors' empirical experiments involving
noncumulative, moving window, self-paced reading tasks that showed significant speedup in reading time consistent with the integration of NPs
with a verb that "reduces local processing load" (142). The authors conclude that the psycholinguistic evidence indicates that infinitives as in 8d
behaves like a normal verb, though it may have some NP characteristics. Butt (1995:59) notes that infinitival complements function as NPs
clause-externally and as more normal verbs clause-internally, thus suggesting a dual nature. Cf. Vasishth and Joseph (2008:145): "...[T]hese
infinitival embedded clauses are expected to be similar to NPs in some respects (linguistic tests) and different in other respects (their behavior in
real-time sentence comprehension)."
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'Ila lifted up a plant'

b. *Ilā= ne ek paudhā= ko uṭhā-ya

Ila= erg one plant. obl = ko lift- pfv f sg
*'Ila lifted up a plant.'

c. Ilā= ne paudhā uṭhā-yā

Ila= erg plant lift- pfv f sg
'Ila lifted up a/the plant'

d. Ilā= ne paudhe= ko uṭhā-yā

Ila= erg plant. obl lift- pfv f sg
'Ila lifted up the plant.' (Mohanan (1993:7))

(10) a. *laṛke= ne āj subah ek phūl= ko dekh-ā

boy= erg today morning one flower. obl= ko see- pfv m sg
*'The boy saw a flower this morning.'

b. laṛke= ne phūl= ko dekh-ā

boy= erg flower. obl= ko see- pfv m sg
'The boy saw the flower.' (Singh (1994:227-228))

In both 9 and 10, the indefinite determiner ek 'one' is incompatible with -ko. The only way to achieve an indefinite
reading is either to leave the NP bare or to qualify it with ek alone; in neither case is -ko permitted. The only
examples I am able to locate that come close to exemplifying an indefinite inanimate NP marked with -ko as a direct
object are given in example 11 below.

(11) a. hīra shīshe= ko kaṭ- ta hai

diamond glass. obl= ko cut- ipfv m sg be 3 sg
'A diamond cuts glass.'

b. aise bārīk zevar= ko dekh-a kai?

such fine jewel. obl= ko see- pfv m sg be 3 sg
'Have you ever seen such a dainty ornament?' (Harley (1946:32-33))

In example 11a, the word shīsha̅ 'glass' can be both a mass noun, as in English, referring to the abstract kind 'glass'
or 'glass-ware' or a count noun meaning 'glass bottle' or 'mirror.' The way Harley has glossed the term in his
example, he apparently intends it as an indefinite mass noun. One might consider the possibility that its ability to
occur as an indefinite inanimate object marked with -ko stems from a special semantic property of mass nouns,
though there are other examples of non-determined mass nouns marked with -ko as objects with a definite
interpretation, as in 12b below. Harley states simply that -ko is included in this sentence "to avoid ambiguity"
(Harley (1946:32)). This view seems similar to the emphasis in work on DOM on the disambiguating function of
object-marking (see section 1.1 above). Perhaps because both arguments are particularly low in prominence or
"strength" in this instance, special marking on the object is licensed. Without additional context, it is difficult to
assess the value of this example. In 11b, on the other hand, aise 'such, thus, like this' is a term of comparison,
implying a definite, physically present jewel which is to be compared with some indefinite other jewel the addressee
may have in mind. Thus, though the comparatum may be indefinite (and possible non-existent), the comparandum
cannot be.

(12) a. pānī pi-yo

water drink-imp
'Drink water.'
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 11

b. pānī= ko pi-yo
water= ko drink-imp
'Drink the water.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:67))

To sum up, it seems fairly safe to conclude that indefinite inanimates are not in any usual sense able to occur as
direct objects marked with -ko.

3.1.2. Animate objects without -ko. Turning to the first prediction of the majority position on object-
marking -ko, it becomes much easier to find counterexamples to the claim that animate direct objects do not
regularly occur without -ko-marking. Moreover, the examples demonstrate that the lack of -ko is predictable from
the semantic constraints of the situation and not any idiosyncratic consequence of lexical choice.

(13) a. darzī bulā-o

tailor call- imp
'Call a tailor.'

b. darzī= ko bulā-o
tailor. obl= ko call- imp
'Call the tailor.' (McGregor (1995:53))

c. pānī kā nal xarāb hai, nal vāle= ko bulā-o

water gen pipe broken be. 3 sg plumber. obl=ko call- imp
'The water pipe is broken; call the plumber.'

d. pānī kā nal xarāb hai, fauran nal vālā bulā-o

water gen pipe broken be. 3 sg at once plumber call- imp
'The water pipe is broken; call a plumber at once.' (Schmidt (1999:70-71))

e. gārī ṭīk karne= ko koi mistrī bhej-o

car right make. inf=purp some mechanic send- imp
'Send some mechanic to fix the car.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:119))

f. mãĩ naukar khoj-tā hũ

1 sg servant search- prog be. 1 sg
'I am looking for a servant.'

g. mãĩ naukar= ko khoj-tā hũ

1 sg servant. obl= ko search- prog be. 1 sg
'I am looking for the servant.' (Lazard (1984:280))

h. Anu apne beṭe= ke liye laṛkī dekh rahī hai

Anu self poss. obl son. obl=for girl look prog be. 3 sg
'Anu is looking for a girl (for a prospective bride) for her son.'

i. Anu apne beṭe= ke liye laṛkī / *laṛkiyā ̃ ḍhunḍh rahī hai

Anu self poss. obl son. obl=for girl / girls search prog be. 3 sg
'Anu is searching for a bride / *brides for her son.'

j. Anu= ne das minaṭ= mẽ laṛkī cun lī

Anu= erg ten minute. obl= in girl choose compl f sg
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'Anu chose a girl in ten minutes.'

k. Anu= ne dobārā / phir= se laṛkī cun lī

Anu= erg second.time / again girl choose compl f sg
'Anu chose a girl again / a second time.' (Dayal (2011a:135, 142-144))

l. aurat baccā bulā rahī hai

woman child call prog be. 3sg
'The woman is calling a child.'

m. aurat bacce= ko bulā rahī hai

woman child call. obl= ko prog be. 3sg
'The woman is calling the / a (particular) child.' (McGregor (1995:53))

n. shēr ādmī khāne- vālā hai

tiger man eat. inf. obl prox fut be. 3sg
'The tiger is about to eat a man. / The tiger is a man-eater.' (Verma (1971:104)) 9

o. mãĩ= ne ek laṛkī dekh-ī

1 sg= erg one girl see- pfv f sg
'I saw a girl.' (Kachru (1980:67))

In every case, the absence of -ko-marking corresponds to a complete lack of specificity of reference of the object. In
many cases, the object NP is the title of a profession. McGregor (1995:53) explains that occupational titles
commonly occur as primary objects in direct case (i.e. not marked by -ko) in siutations where "the individuality of
their referend is not emphasized." In other words, the terms have only de dicto meaning, referring to the class of
those who practice the named occupation and not to any specific practitioner (de re). In the other examples as well,
the object NPs refer not to individuals but to whole classes; they are non-referring expressions or have only generic
reference. Kachru observes that the final example 13o is "not very good" but possible so long as ek laṛkī 'one girl' is
interpreted as generic, where 'a girl' means 'some type of girl' rather than 'some one girl.' In a similar vein, Comrie
(1989:133) repeats McGregor's example 13l above with a question mark in front of it. Aissen takes this to mean that
Comrie is pointing out the fact that case marking is prefered for this sentence (Aissen (2003:465)). However, the
sentence is well-formed as is, assuming a generic, and not a specific, interpretation of the object NP. As 13m
demonstrates, using -ko alters the meaning of the clause by augmenting the specificity of the referent: 'a particular
child', which is tantamount to the definite NP 'the child.'
We could say that the use of bare nominals in the examples in 13 gives rise to what Krifka (1995:83) has referred
to as the "representative object" reading. Dayal (1992:50-51) offers two helpful examples to illustrate the concept

(14) a. Anu ḍakṭar= se shādī kar-egī. *us= kā nām Ravī hai.

Anu doctor= from marriage do-fut f sg. 3 sg gen name Ravi be. 3 sg
'Anu will marry a doctor. *His name is Ravi.'

b. Anu ek ḍakṭar= se shādī kar-egī. us= kā nām Ravī hai.

Anu one doctor= from marriage do-fut f sg. 3 sg gen name Ravi be. 3 sg
'Anu will marry a doctor. His name is Ravi.'

Mohanan (1994b:109, n. 6) seems to indicate that this sentence is not acceptable in her dialect. The structure with infinitive in oblique case +
the morpheme -vālā is very productive in Hindi and can have several different interpretations: expressing immediate futurity as reflected in the
first free translation, a relative clause (the tiger is one who...), or a N + V compound as reflected in the second free translation. Under this last
interpretation, no case marking would be permitted in Hindi; under the first, it would be permitted. For a discussion of this structure, see
Mohanan (1994b:113-116); Mohanan (1995:98-100).
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 13
As Dayal explains, it is clearly not the case in 14a that Anu is going to mary the kind itself, Doctor with a capital
"d". Rather, given a context such as that the speaker is sure Anu will only marry a doctor because that has been her
life-long intention, the bare NP refers to no particular individual but "an instantiation who would be representative
of the kind" (Dayal (1992:51)), a representative object. Given the fact that the nominal is completely generic in this
reading, it comes as no surprise that pronominal anaphora is impossible: 'doctor' has no referent and therefore cannot
supply an antecedent for the pronoun. In example 14b, on the other hand, 'one/a doctor' refers to an individual
instantiation of the kind. Nothing prevents the anaphor from referring back to the singular NP from the preceding
Structures of this sort turn out to be quite common in Hindi, and they play a crucial role in a much-discussed
phenomenon that has been variously described in the literature as noun-incorporation (Mohanan (1994b); Mohanan
(1995)) or pseudo-incorporation (Dayal (2011a)). Because the topic involves parameters similar to those under
direct consideration, it may be worthwile indulging a brief excursus before continuing.

3.1.3. Excursus on noun incorporation and the semantics of bare NPs in Hindi. Mohanan
(1994b;1995) and Dayal (1992;2011b; 2011a) have both treated the phenomenon of noun incorporation in Hindi at
length. Whereas Mohanan refers to it simply as noun incorporation, Dayal prefers the label pseudo-incorporation so
as to distinguish it from what she takes as more canonical cases of noun incorporation that involve morphological
fusion and detransitivization of the verb (Dayal (2011b:41-42)). In Hindi, the incorporated object NP retains its
status in syntax as complement, a fact which leads to the surprising awareness that clauses which contain
incorporated NPs can look all but identical to those that do not.
Mohanan (1995) was the first to recognize noun incorporation in Hindi. She argued that the combination of the
bare singular NP interpreted as a generic term with a predicate can create, in effect, a compound predicate: book-
reading, for instance. She suggested this effect works for both inanimate and animate, singular and plural NPs 15.

(15) a. Anil kitābẽ bec-egā

Anil books sell- fut m sg
lit. 'Anil will do book-selling.'
'Anil will sell books.'

b. Anil= ne kitābẽ bec-ĩĩ

Anil= erg books sell- pfv f pl
lit. 'Anil did book-selling.'
'Anil sold books.' (Mohanan (1994b:106))

c. Anil= ne khānā pakā-yā

Anil= erg food cook- pfv m sg
lit. 'Anil did food-cooking'
'Anil cooked the food.'

d. Rām= ne lakḍī kāt-̣tī

Ram= erg wood cut- pfv f sg
lit. 'Ram did wood-cutting.'
'Ram cut wood.'

e. Ilā bacce khoj-tī rah-tī hai

Ila children search- ipfv f sg prog be. 3sg
lit. 'Ila keeps performing the act of searching for children.'
'Ila keeps searching for children.'

f. Ilā baccõ= ko khoj-tī rah-tī hai

Ila children. obl m pl= ko search- ipfv f sg prog be. 3sg
'Ila keeps searching for the/some (particular) children' (Mohanan (1994b:108))
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g. Anu bacca sambhāl-tī hai

Anu child look.after- ipfv f sg be. 3 sg
'Anu looks after (one or more) children.' (Dayal (2011a:128))

The ability of nouns and verbs to participate in incorporation is not determined by lexical properties of particular
nouns and verbs, though there are idiosyncratic constraints on the combinations of nouns and verbs, which is
suggestive of a lexical process (Dayal (2011b:42)). Dayal observes that valid combinations refer to "well-established
activity," and Mohanan states the combination must be "salient" or "name-worthy" within the culture of language
users (Mohanan (1995:93)). Thus, while 'grass cutting' and 'clothes washing' are appropriate and possible
incorporation structures, 'grass seeing' and 'wife beating' are not. Also, the act of 'girl seeing' refers not to watching
female passers-by but rather to the culturally specific activity of looking at prospective brides. The combination
'woman seeing' is unacceptable. Important to note is the fact that Dayal lists aberrant examples of combinations as
ungrammatical, as indicated with initial asterisks, yet Mohanan gives them simply the pound sign (#) to indicate that
they are semantically ill-formed or inappropriate in context. This latter practice suggests that there are possible
contexts in which less canonical, or even novel, combinations can be employed. A key difference between

Mohanan's and Dayal's approach to incorporation lies in the fact that Mohanan argues for a syntactic basis to
incorporation (Dayal (2011b:42)). She treats the incorporated NP and verb (V̅ ) as sisters, daughters to a single V
(1995:91), presenting the structure as a type of valence-preserving incorporation like that of Mohawk or Southern
Tiwa (Kroeger (2005:281)), such that the verb, which we have seen must agree with the most prominent unmarked
argument, often the object, can show agreement with a nominal that has been incorporated into it.

Under Mohanan's analysis, it is crucial that nothing can intervene between the incorporated noun and its verb, lest
the incorporation effect be lost. Not surprisingly, then, she claims that the incorporated noun cannot take modifiers,
nor can any other clause element intervene between the pair, such as the subject when the object has been fronted, a
locative adjunct, or a negative (Mohanan (1994b:105)).

(16) a. Anil kitābẽ bāzār= mẽ bec-egā

Anil books market= in sell. fut m sg
'Anil will sell (the) books in the market.'
*'Anil will do book-selling in the market.'

b. Anil kitābẽ nahĩĩ bec-egā

Anil books neg sell. fut m sg
'Anil will not sell (the) books.'
*'Anil will not do book-selling.'

c. kitābẽ Anil bec-egā

books Anil sell. fut m sg
'Anil will sell the books.'
*'Anil will do book-selling.' (Mohanan (1994b:107))

Cf. Dayal (2011a:140): "...I should note that the activity of bacce khojnaa 'children searching' is very awkward. It needs some kind of special
context like a director looking for children to fill certain roles in order to make it acceptable, and even then, it sounds somewhat unnatural."
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 15
The incorporated noun also cannot be passivized or gapped, nor can either it or its verb be conjoined (Mohanan
(1994b:107-108)). Finally, no case-marking can intervene. Indeed, Mohanan argues that the incorporated reading of
an NP creates a single stress contour and word melody across the N + V (1995:95). Breaking this single intonation
contour with independent peaks of stress on each half of the structure, she argues, would likewise rupture the
incorporation effect.
Dayal, on the other hand, contends that pseudo-incorporation is "essentially a semantic phenomenon" (Dayal
(2011b:43)). It depends on whether the NP is used to refer or in a generic sense and does not require that we
understand two radically different syntactic patterns for verbs with incorporated nouns and those without.
Importantly, the generic use that is required for (pseudo-)incorporation is unaffected by such phenomena as
modification, negation, and scrambling. Part of what obscures these facts from Mohanan's view is likely the fact that
so many of her examples involve plurals and mass nouns. As Dayal points out ((2011a:126, 141-145)), a certain
sense of number-neutrality is a cross-linguistically stable and characteristic property of incorporation constructions.
That is, in incorporation, the number of the incorporated NP refers not to individuals but to kinds or representative
objects. Thus, the use of marking for number differs from non-incorporated constructions.

(17) a. Anu kitāb paṛh rah-ī hai

Anu book. f sg read prog- f sg b. 3 sg
Incorporated: 'Anu is reading books (doing book-reading).'
Non-incorporated: 'Anu is reading a/the book' (Dayal (1992:41))

b. Anu= ne kitāb paṛh-ī. *vo bahut acchī thī

Anu= erg book. f sg read- pfv f sg *it very good be. impf f sg
'Anu book-read. *It was very good.' (Dayal (2011a:159))

I went apple-picking. *They / the apples were sweet. (Dayal (2011b:46))

d. Mohan chuṭṭiyõ= mẽ vækyum klīnar bec-tā thā

Mohan holidays. obl= in vacuum cleaners sell- ipfv m sg be. impf 3 m sg
A. 'Mohan was selling vacuum cleaners during the holidays.'
B. 'Mohan was doing vacuum cleaner-selling during the holidays.'

e. us= ne do mahine= mẽ ek bhī vækyum klīnar nahĩĩ becī

3 sg= erg two months= in one emph vacuum cleaner neg sell. pfv f sg
'He didn't sell even one vacuum cleaner in two months.' (Mohanan (1995:91))

f. Anu kitāb nahı̄ ̃ paṛh-egī

Anu book f sg neg read- fut f sg
'Anu won't read any book(s).' (Dayal (2011b:43))

g. Anu sirf purānī kitāb bec-egī

Anu obly old. f sg book. f sg sell- fut f sg
'Anu will only sell old books.' (Dayal (2011a:137))

h. kitāb Anu zarūr bec-egī

book. f sg Anu definitely sell- fut f sg
'Anu will definitely sell books.' (Dayal (2011b:138))

Example 17a shows the essentially semantic nature of noun (pseudo-)incorporation in Hindi: incorporated and
non-incorporated readings are available for the same sentence when extracted from context. Under the incorporated
reading, the object NP is functionally under-specified for number; it refers to the kind, not one or more
instantiations. Example 17b demonstrates the apparent number-neutrality of kitāb more forcefully. Anaphora is not
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possible in the second clause because kitāb cannot supply an appropriate singular antecedent, this despite the fact
that the noun is morphologically singular. It is not that Anu read one or more actual books; she merely engaged in
Example 17c is included to provide a model of the anaphora problem from English. Here, too, the incorporated
nominal is unavailable to the pronoun in the following sentence. Indeed, a speaker who uses the first clause to
describe her activity, need not actually have picked any apples at all. Perhaps a storm blew up right at the moment
the intended picker entered the orchard, such that she had to turn around and return home empty handed. In such a
scenario, the individual could report to co-workers on Monday morning: 'I went apple-picking Saturday.' Being
inquisitive, they might respond by asking: 'How were the apples?' To which, she could then logically reply: 'I don't
know, due to the storm, I didn't get to pick a single one.'
Examples 17d and 17e are intended to provide exemplars of just such a situation. Mohanan points out that the
statement in17e is logically incompatible with the first reading of 17d, but not logically incoherent in the context of
the second reading. That is, if we assume a de re interpretation of 'vacuum cleaners' as in reading A, the result is
inconsistent with the notion that Mohan could actually fail to sell individual machines. Assuming a de dicto
interpretation of 'vacuum cleaners', however, produces no such effect. If we overheard a conversation between two
old friends, with one answering in response to a query about his current job, "I just started selling vacuum cleaners
at the department store," we likely would not find it strange to then hear his interlocutor ask: "You sold any yet?"
Example 17f shows that the intervening negation does not in fact nullify the incorporated reading; the negative
takes ultimate scope over both noun and verb. The sentence does not say: there is a book and Anu will not read it.
Rather, it states that there will not be an act of book reading: Anu will not read any book. In example 17g, we see
that the addition of a modifier also does not affect the ability of the NP to bear the incorporated interpretation. Dayal
notes, however, that if we replace the adjective purānī 'old' with baṛī 'big', the sentence becomes unacceptable. "This
is because modification must preserve prototypicality, and while old books can enter into a prototypical relationship
with sell, heavy books cannot" (Dayal (2011b:138)). Elsewhere, Dayal makes a similar statement about
representative object constructions: only those adjectives that predicate properties that are "natural properties of the
kind" (Dayal (1992:52)) can avoid conflict with the intended meaning of the generic reference. Finally, example 17h
demonstrates that even when kitāb is fronted and separated from the verb by both subject and intensifying adverb,
the incorporated reading is preserved. 11

These examples promp us to wonder whether incorporated readings might not also survive passivization after all.
For example, if we passivized a sentence like example 15a above, could the incorporated interpretation stand?
Interestingly, in many cases Hindi has pairs of verbs that express the same verbal notion, one as an intransitive and
one as transitive. So, for example, there is one verb to describe the action an agent might do to break an object,
toṛnā, and another to describe the action of the object as a result, ṭuṭnā (Snell and Weightman (2003:180)). For some
verbs, like sell, the intransitive member of the pair is semantically equivalent to a passive. So in "passivizing" a
sentence like 15a, two options are available .

(18) a. yahā ̃ kitābẽ bech-ī jā-tī hãĩ

here books sell- pfv f pl go- ipfv f pl be. 3 pl
'Books are sold here.'

b. yahā ̃ kitābẽ bik-tī hãĩ

here books be sold- ipfv f pl be. 3 pl
'Books are sold here.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:180))

NB: The demonstration of the semantic nature of (pseudo-)incorporation should also take care of Mohanan's argument that these structures do
not permit gapping inside of coordination i. So long as the generic reading of the coordinated object NPs is maintained, the structure should be
acceptable as a noun (pseudo-)incorporation. A good test sentence for evaluation by a native speaker would be example ii.

According to Dayal (2011a:139-140, and n. 20), Michael Wescoat, in his doctoral dissertation at Stanford University entitled On lexical
sharing, provides data to show that the single intonation contour Mohanan argues for as a characteristic of the incorporation structure is preserved
even when the incorporated NPs are modified, coordinated, or separated from the verb. I have not been able to consult this work, however, to
verify these data. If Dayal's report is accurate, Wescoat's data would further suggest that Mohanan makes a stronger case for the syntactic basis
for noun incorporation than is necessary or appropriate.
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 17
As Snell and Weightman explain, the first option, with the full passive form of a transitive verb, places attention
more squarely on the act of selling itself, while the simple intransitive verb focuses more on the fact of books being
available. Perhaps, then, we could expect the true passive sentence to more likely preserve the incorporated reading
in the sense of 'book-selling happens here' as opposed to the intransitive (?'books-being-sold happens here').
Applying the anaphora test, we would expect the following pair of sentences to be infelicitous together, assuming
the incorporated reading for the first.

(19) yahā ̃ kitābẽ bech-ī jā-tī hãĩ. *ve saste hãĩ

here books sell- pfv f pl go- ipfv f pl be. 3 pl *they cheap be. 3 pl
'Books are sold here. They're cheap.'

The English translation somewhat obscures the intended effect of the test, but if we read the first sentence as 'book-
selling happens here', the unlikelihood of 'they're cheap' being an appropriate sentence to follow becomes more
apparent. At any rate, the question will have to await consultation and (dis)confirmation by a native speaker.
One crucial aspect of the particular sentence in 15a that bears commenting on is the fact that the incorporated NP
is plural. Since syntax does not seem to be a reliable guide to the availability of incorporated readings, rather the
apparent number-neutrality of singular NPs and their failure to support antecedence for pronominal anaphora
provide the surest diagnostics, as we have seen, then one might question what effect precisely does morphological
number alternation on the incorporated NP have on the incorporated reading. That is, if (pseudo-)incorporation relies
on the incorporated NP having only generic reference, how do plurals function as incorporated objects?
Dayal provides a good example to demonstrate that number-neutrality is really not quite apt as a description of the
behavior of singular NPs under incorporation. In fact, the constructions are sensitive to morphological number,
simply not in the same way as under non-incorporated readings. The example relies upon the following scenarios as
context: Anu must find several girls to cast in a play, or she is a match-maker and must locate brides for several
different men.

(20) Anu= ne #laṛkī cun lī / ok

laṛkiyā ̃ cun lı̄ ̃
Anu= erg girl choose compl pfv / girls choose compl- pfv
'Anu chose (the) girls (she had to choose).'

Here, in effect, Anu went 'girls-choosing', not 'girl-choosing.' The reference of the incorporated NP is still generic;
her only goal was to find the kind Girl. However, the number of representatives of the type was more than one.
Dayal was able to replicate this effect with the inanimate count noun book as well. Her scenario involved Anu being
given a summer reading assignment to read a number of books and then report on them. Three native Hindi speakers
all rejected the sentence in example 21 as a description of Anu's activity.

(21) #Anu= ne ek hafte= mẽ kitāb paṛh ḍālī

Anu= erg one week. obl= in book. f sg read compl- pfv
'Anu got done reading the books in one week.'

Here, the singular kitāb fails to capture the specific nature of the assignment: Anu had to do books-reading, not
To sum up, Hindi noun incorporation is primarily a semantic phenomenon involving a bare NP with only generic
reference akin to the representative object reading such that it denotes only on the kind-level, not the individual-
level. As a result, it cannot supply antecedence for pronominal anaphora. As we have gleaned by comparison to the
examples in 13 in section 3.1.2, many, if not most, of the examples of animate objects without -ko-marking would in
fact be considered examples of (pseudo-)incorporation. In the next section, I will discuss how these facts interact
with -ko-marking and what the implications of that interaction are for the function of -ko in discourse.

3.1.4. -ko, noun incorporation, and discourse. In the previous section, I demonstrated that most of the
examples involving animate direct objects not marked by -ko could be seen as examples of Hindi (pseudo-
)incorporation. This view might, in fact, be questionable where examples 13a, 13c, and 13e are concerned, since it
seems unlikely that we could interpret the imperative forms as having the force of 'Be tailor/plumber-calling!' or 'Be
18 Volume Title Will Show Here
mechanic-sending!' The semantics of those sentences, however, match those of incorporated NP structures fairly
closely, and, as we have seen, (pseudo-)incorporation in Hindi is primarily a semantic phenomenon.
The semantics of noun incorporation and representative objects, however, do interact with syntax where the
syntactic case functions marked by Layer II clitic postpositions are concerned. As we saw in the examples in 14, the
clitic -se, meaning 'from', which is used to mark separation as well as instruments, oblique agency, and the objects of
certain verbs like marry, meet, and talk to, does not affect the availability of a representative object reading of the
object NP. Such is not the case, though, with -ko.
We have said that the verb in a Hindi incorporation structure does not detransitivize, and the object NP remains
completely visible to the syntax of the clause. We can demonstrate this fact by appealing to the unique characteristic
of verb agreement whereby only those arguments not marked by a Layer II clitic postposition can trigger agreement
in the verb or predicate. In the perfective aspect, where the agent is usually marked by the clitic -ne, the verb will
routinely agree with the object when it is unmarked. In all the noun incorporation examples above involving
perfective aspect, the verb can be seen to agree with the incorporated nominals. I repeat examples 15d and 15b
below for quick comparison.

(22) a. Rām= ne lakḍī kāt-̣tī

Ram= erg wood cut- pfv f sg
'Ram cut wood.'

b. Anil= ne kitābẽ bec-ĩĩ

Anil= erg books sell- pfv f pl
'Anil sold books.'

I have chosen these examples due to the mismatch in gender between their subject sand objects. The feminine
singular verb agreement in 22a and feminine plural in 22b can have nothing to do with their masculine singular
subjects. As Dayal notes, this sort of verb agreement illustrates that the incorporated noun retains its syntactic status
as regular complement (Dayal (2011b:47); Dayal (2011a:137)). This fact is of crucial importance because it prevents
us from concluding that the use of noun incorporation is a valence-decreasing strategy. The appearance of animate
objects without -ko, often, if not exclusively, inside incorporation constructions, is not simply a non-case-marked
variant of a higher valence construction. The motivation for the structure is semantic, and it produces unique
semantic effects that make it fundamentally contrastive with clauses that have -ko-marked direct objects. Consider
the following examples.

(23) a. Anu apne bete= ke liye laṛkī dekh rah-ī hai. vo *us= kā / laṛkī= ka swabhāv jan̄ -nā cāh-tī hai.
Anu self poss. obl son. obl gen for girl see prog f sg be. prs 3 sg. she *3 sg= g
'Anu is girl-seeing for her son. She wants to find out *her / the girl's temperament (before she chooses one).'

b. Anu apne bete= ke liye laṛkiyā ̃ dekh rah-ī hai. vo un= kā / laṛkiyõ= kā swabhāv jān-nā cāh-tī hai.
Anu self poss. obl son. obl gen for girls see prog f sg be. prs 3 sg. she 3 p
'Anu is seeing girls (girls-seeing) for her son. She wants to find out their / the girls' temperament.' (Dayal (2011a:159); D

c. Anu apne bete= ke liye laṛkī= ko dekh rah-ī hai. vo us= kā / #laṛkī= kā swabhāv jān- cāh- hai
nā tī
Anu self poss. obl son. obl gen for girl= ko see prog f sg be. prs 3 sg. she 3 sg
'Anu is seeing the girl for her son. She wants to find out her / *the girl's temperament.'

The -ko-marking in example 23c "imposes a familiarity requirement on its argument" (Dayal (2011a:133)). This
must be the girl Anu has already heard about, or the one her son picked out himself, or the girl whose parents spoke
to Anu beforehand about their daugher. The use of -ko cancels the incorporation interpretation and signals that the
object NP is already in the common ground. This situation is the polar opposite of example 23a, where the activity
of looking for prospective brides is completely new. The continuation of the utterance requires a full NP to activate
the notion of a specific girl because the first half contains no specific reference. In 23c, by contrast, a full NP in the
second half would be infelicitous: pronominal reference is sufficient for routine tracking of the specific girl who is
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 19
already presupposed from the first half of the utterance. As the following example shows, a mismatch between the
specificity of the object in the first clause and the type of anaphora in the second forces the hearer into

(24) Anu= ne do sāl tak apne bete= ke liye laṛkī dekh- vo hamesha #us= se / laṛkī= se ek hii sa
Anu= erg two year for self poss. obl son. obl = gen for girl see. pfv f sg. she always #
'Anu girl-saw for her son for two years. She always asked #her / the girl the same question.' (Dayal (2011a:160))

Dayal reports that, if pronominal anaphora is used in the second clause, native speakers interpret the sentence to
refer to Anu's act of looking at the same girl repeatedly, over and over again, for two years, always asking her the
same question. This situation conflicts with what they know about the cultural process of seeking a bride in the real
world, but they are forced to accomodate this pragmatically odd reading of the first clause by the routine nature of
the pronominal reference in the second. As soon as the word 'her' occurs, the hearer is foreced to reassess clause one
and infer that there must be a specific girl implied. A full NP in the second clause, however, creates no such
Similar problems of interpretation can result from the use of -ko itself. The use of -ko to mark an object that is not
already in the common ground can be infelcitous, as example 25c shows.

(25) a. Adnān āj rāt= kī salen= ke liye murgī cāh-tā thā

Adnan today night= gen curry= gen for chicken want. impfv m sg be. impf 3 sg
'Adnan wanted chicken for tonight's curry.'

b. us= ke xansāme= ne bazār= se murgī xarīd-ī

3 sg= gen cook= erg market= from chicken buy- pfv f sg
'His cook bought a chicken from the market.'

c. #us= ke xansāme= ne bazār= se murgī= ko xarīd-ī

3 sg= gen cook= erg market= from chicken= ko buy- pfv f sg
#'His cook bought a particular / the chicken from the market.' (Butt (1993:97);Butt (1995:18-19)()

In the context of sentence 25a, where the desideratum is merely a representative object of the kind Chicken (i.e. any
chicken, some type of chicken), sentence 25c proves infelicitous because the use of -ko presupposes that the cook
already had a particular chicken in mind that he wanted to buy.
That -ko encodes items in the common ground, can also be seen as the motivating force behind the fact that proper
names and routine tracking of participants through pronominal anaphora always receive -ko-marking when they
occur as direct objects. The use of individual proper names and personal pronouns without additional identifying
information generally presupposes that the individual so named has already been brought up in discourse or belongs
to the common ground.

(26) a. Adnān= ne nādayā= ko / *nādyā bazār= mẽ dekh-ā

Adnan= erg Nadya= ko / *Nadya market= in see- pfv m sg
'Adnan saw Nadya in the market.' (Butt (1995:96))

b. Zainab= ne us= ko / *vo dekh-ā

Zainab= erg 3 sg= ko / *3 sg. dir see- pfv m sg
'Zainab saw him.' (Butt (1993:96))

c. yah kitāb acchī hai. is= ko paṛh-o

this book good be. prs 3 sg. 3 sg. obl = ko read- imp
'This book is good. Read it.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:68))
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This discourse-regulatory function of -ko-marking provides the likely genesis of the oft-repeated generalization that
-ko serves to mark definiteness, especially in inanimate objects. As in the examples in 27 demonstrate, the first
index of an inanimate nominal in discourse is usually indefinite and not marked by -ko. Subsequent indices,
however, may be both definite and -ko-marked.

(27) a. ek kursī la-o

one chair bring. imp
'Bring a chair.'

b. kursī= ko sāf kar-o

chair= ko clean make. imp
'Clean the chair.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:67))

c. us ciṛiyāghar= mẽ ek mor aur mornī the. mãĩ= ne mornī= ko nahı̄ ̃ dekh-

that aviary= in one peacock and peahen be. impf 3 pl. 1 sg= erg peahen= ko neg see. pfv
'There used to be a peaock and a peahen in that aviary. I have never seen the peahen.' (Mohanan (1993:18))

The familiarity requirement imposed by -ko and its presuppositional effect as to the existence of a unique entity
designated by the marked object approximate the notion of topic in two key ways. First, topics are often
presuppositional, whether part of previous discourse, shared background knowledge, or immediate context (Kroeger
(2004:136)). Second, topics in Hindi tend to need to be definite. For instance, example 28 shows that an indefinite
NP cannot occur in fronted position, the usual position for topics (Klaiman (1976:321-322)). 12

(28) *ek kitāb laṛkī= ne Mrs. Gandhi= ko dī

one book girl= erg Mrs. Gandhi= dat give. pfv f sg
'A book the girl gave to Mrs. Gandhi.' (Klaiman (1976:322))

And while -ko is not itself a topic marker, it is at least compatible with the topicalizer to 29a as well as with clause-

initial position 29b. Example 29b additionally shows that a -ko-marked topic element is distinct from the focus of
the clause.

(29) a. Kavita kitāb= ko= to paṛh rah-ī hai

Kavita book= ko=top read prog- f sg be. prs 3 sg
'As for the book, Kavita is reading it.' (Vasishth and Joseph (2008:141))

b. billī= ko kaun khilā-ta hai?

cat= ko top who feed- impfv m sg be. prs 3 sg
'The cat, who feeds it?' (Sharma (1999:16))

c. Anu= ko tum jān- ho ki vo laṛka jis= ne mār- yahā ̃ rah- hai

tī ā tā
Anu=kotop 2 pl know- impfv f pl be. prs 2 pl comp dem boy rel= ne hit- pfv m sg
'Anu, you know that the boy who hit her lives here.' (Dayal (1996:40, n. 17))

-ko-marking on objects is not completely coexstensive with the notion of topic in Hindi, however. Indeed, it also
overlaps with focus, which is distinctly non-presuppositional in nature and not part of the common ground (Kroeger
(2004:136)). What makes this overlap fascinating is the fact that the constraints on topic and focus in terms of

Japanese also does not accomodate indefinite NPs in regular topic constructions, though they can show up in contrastive topic structures
Kroeger (2004:154).
For to as a topic particle, see Montaut (2011);Sharma (1999); Sharma (2003); Vasishth and Joseph (2008).
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 21
information structure exert pressure in opposite directions. The presuppositional/specific character of -ko-marking
that makes it superficially resemble topicality clashes to some degree with the novelty requirements of focus.

(30) a. Kavita kitāb= tak= ko paṛh rah-ī hai

Kavita book= foc= ko=top read prog- f sg be. prs 3 sg
'Kavita is reading even the book.'

b. Kavita kitāb= ko= bhī paṛh rah-ī hai

Kavita book= ko=foc read prog- f sg be. prs 3 sg
'Kavita is reading even the book.' (Vasishth and Joseph (2008:141-142))

c. kisī jānvar= ko nahı̄ ,̃ laṛkī= ko mār-ā laṛke= ne

indf animal= ko neg, girl= ko hit- pfv m sg boy= erg
'It isn't some animal, it's a girl that he has beaten, the boy.' (Montaut (2011:7))

d. John= ne kyā soch- ki kis= ne kisī= ko= bhī nahı̄ ̃ dekh-

ā ā
John= erg interrog think- pfv m sg comp who= erg anyone= ko= foc neg see- pfv m sg
'Who did John think didn't see anyone?' (Malhotra and Chandra (2007:60))

e. kis= ko Rām= ne soch-ā ki Bill= ne dekh-ā?

who. obl= ko Ram= erg think- pfv m sg comp Bill= erg see. pfv m sg
'Whom did Ram think Bill saw?' (Malhotra and Chandra (2007:56))

f. tum kis= ko pasand kar-te ho?

2 pl who. obl= ko like do- impfv m pl be. prs 2 pl
'Whom do you like?' (Dayal (1996:20))

g. kis point= ko? kuch hamẽ bhī to batā-o

what. obl point= ko? indef 1 pl. dat too emph tell- imp
'What point? Couldn't you tell us too (we would like to know)?' (Montaut (2011:18))

Examples 30a and 30b show that an object marked with -ko is also compatible with the focus adverbs tak and bhī,
meaning 'even'. The object NPs, however, receive a definite interpretation. Even in the focus construction, a
presupposition of specificity for the book remains: 'Kavita is even reading the book (you got here) [in addition to the
comicbooks she is always reading].' Example 30c illustrates -ko in a contrastive focus construction. This sentence is
potentially even more troubling for the analysis of -ko developed above, in that it contains an NP with the so-called
"indefinite" adjective kisī (the oblique case of koi) marked with -ko. Moreover, neither the animal mentioned nor the
girl are expected to have had prior index in the discourse, as evidenced by the translation of laṛkī=ko as 'a girl' and
not 'the girl.' The fact of the matter, however, is that neither 'some animal' nor 'a girl' are truly indefinite in this
sentence if, by indefinite, is meant completely unrelated to previously established referents. For Enç (1991), this is
the meaning of a non-specific indefinite. She also defines a category of specific indefinites, which are included in
previously established discourse referents but remain distinct from them. This notion dovetails nicely with Hopper
and Thompson's requirement, discussed above, that an individuated item remain "distinct from its own background."
In this specific case, the conversation excerpted in the example had already taken as topic the beating of a human
being. The flow of argument apparently led to one party failing to impute to the victim a level of human dignity her
interlocutor felt was appropriate. Thus, a narrow class of highly individuated entities that had been beaten had
already been carved out in prior discourse. These specific indefinite NPs are deployed to narrow the field further,
excluding some certain animal and including some certain girl. Indeed, the word koi/kis always encodes specific
indefiniteness in Hindi, as demonstrated in example 31 below.

(31) kisī= se kah-nā ki mãĩ yahā ̃ khaṛ-ā hū ̃

22 Volume Title Will Show Here
indef= from tell- inf comp 1 sg here stand- pfv m sg be. prs 1 sg
'Tell someone that I'm standing (waiting) here.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:89))

The impatient speaker in this example clearly does not know the identity of the correct party to inform that he is
waiting, but he also clearly expects that there is a certain, one such individual who will respond as soon as he or she
finds out the situation. I includes example 30d above to show that the specific indefiniteness of koi/kis is preserved
even under negation: that is, the negation takes scope under the existential predication of the NP. The phrase is
equivalent to:

∃x[(person')x & ~see(Who, x)]

Finally, examples 30e, 30f, and 30g demonstrate that object-marking -ko can also occur on wh words. Again, even
though the -ko-marked NPs are in focus, they still participate in the presupposition that Ram thought Bill saw some
certain individual or individuals and there is some certain person whom you like.
Thus, even though object NPs marked with -ko can participate in focus constructions, they maintain their essenital
presuppositional character. It is this character which alligns them with the notion of topic in that they represent
information a speaker expects to be identifiable to the hearer without much accomodation, whether because it is
known, predictable, or inferable (Kroeger (2004:136)). In the next section, I will build upon this concept in taking
another look at animate objects marked with -ko that receive an indefinite interpretation. The goal will be to
determine whether they function similarly to the specific indefinites we have just seen.

3.1.5. Are -ko-marked indefinite animate objects really indefinite?. The minority view of the
purpose of -ko-marking on objects maintains that it indicates primarily specificity or individuation of the object NPs
along the lines discussed in the previous sections (McGregor (1995); Kachru (1980); Snell and Weightman (2003);
Butt (1993)). McGregor (1995:53) writes, "ko occurs in association with direct objects which are individualized to
some extent, and to which a degree of contextual importance is thus attached." As he goes on to note, expressions
that refer to human beings and certain animals are usually, by nature, specific. That is, beings higher on the animacy
scale tend to be thought of as inherenly more individuated than beings and objects that are lower on the scale.
Because of this coincidence of reference, it would be easy to overestimate the impact of animacy on the use of -ko,
assuming the specificity analysis is correct. What appear to be examples of -ko required by animacy could
exemplify instead -ko required by individuation. If the conditioning factor for use of -ko-marking were truly split
along lines of animacy, with animate direct objects receiving -ko primarily because of their animacy and inanimate
objects because of their specificity, we would expect a fair number of instances of indefinite animate objects marked
with -ko. Indeed, Lazard (1984:280) concludes that "humanness dominates over definiteness" in Hindi -ko-marking
precisely on the basis that "human referents, even though indefinite, often take the postposition ko...." But what is
the evidence for indefinite animate objects marked with -ko?
In her seminal discussion of DOM, Aissen concludes of Hindi that object-marking with -ko serves different
functions for humans and inanimates, marking necessary definitenss on inanimates only, while animate NPs may be
either definite or indefinite (Aissen (2003:466-467)). As evidence for this statement, she cites an example from
Singh (1994) where the indefinite ek 'one' occurs with a -ko-marked animate object but is impossible with an

(32) laṛke= ne āj subah ek laṛkī= ko dekh-ā

boy= erg today morning one girl. obl= ko see- pfv m sg
'The boy saw a girl this morning.' (Singh (1994:228))

Contrast this sentence with 10a above. Mohanan (1994b) provides another example that is quite similar 33.

(33) ilā= ne ek bacce= ko uṭhā-yā

Ila= erg one child. obl= ko lift. pfv m sg
'Ila lifted a child.' (Mohanan (1994b:79))
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 23
We can contrast this utterance, in turn, with example 34, which Aissen also cites.

(34) ilā= ne bacce= ko uṭhā-yā

Ila= erg child. obl= ko lift. pfv m sg
'Ila lifted the/a child.' (Mohanan (1994b:80))

With these examples, we arrive at one true difference in the behavior of object -ko between animate and inanimate
NPs. As demonstrated in example 10a in section 3.1.1 above, inanimate objects cannot simultaneously bear -ko and
the indefinite determiner ek 'one'. Animate objects, however, can. As a result, we have four possible syntagms to

Hindi English
paudhā uṭhāyā lifted a/the plant
ek paudhā uṭhāya lifted a plant
*ek paudhe ko uṭhāyā ungrammatical
paudhe ko uṭhāyā lifted the/a certain plant

*baccā uṭhāyā ungrammatical

*ek baccā uṭhāyā ungrammatical
ek bacce ko uṭhāyā lifted a (certain) child
bacce ko uṭhāyā lifted a (certain)/the child

Unless the selectional restrictions of the verb permit bare animate NPs to bear a generic/respresentative object
reading consistent with a (pseudo-)incorporation type construction, they cannot occur unmarked as direct objects.
Inanimate NPs, on the other hand, can. In such a case, being referring expressions in a language that lacks articles
they can be interpreted as definite or indefinite as the context permits. Inanimate NPs support a non-specific
indefinite reading with the indefinite determiner ek 'one' and no -ko; animate NPs do not. For animate NPs, the 14

combination of ek and -ko produces a specific indefinite reading, while it renders inanimate NPs ungrammatical.
Finally, without determiner but with -ko, both animate and inanimate NPs achieve either a specific indefinite or a
definite interpretation. The unsurprising base generalization is that animate NPs are inherently more indiviudated
than inanimate NPs. In effect, unless an animate NP has the generic reading associated with (pseudo-)incorporation,
it will always be interpreted as a specific indefinite or definite. This fact accounts for what Dayal mentions is an
"impressionistic" generalization for Hindi (pseudo-)incorporation: inanimate NPs participate in incorporation more
commonly than animate NPs.
The facts of pronominal anaphora support this intrerpretation. Whereas animate nominals with or without ek but
with -ko have no problem supplying antecedents for pronominal anaphors, inanimate NPs generally prefer only full
NP anaphora, even when marked with -ko (Dayal (2011a:159)).

(35) a. mãĩ kal film (=ko) dekh-ne ga-yī thī

1 sg yesterday film (=ko) see- inf. obl go- pfv f sg be. impf 3 f sg
Speaker A: 'Yesterday I went to see a movie.'

b. #vo / film / Ø kaisī lag-ī?

3 sg / film / pro how seem- pfv f sg
Speaker B: 'How did you like it/ the movie?' (Dayal (2011a:159))

Though, recall from our discussion of example 13o that Kachru (1980:67, n. 8) observes that ek laṛkī 'one girl' can be used as a generic direct
object. She notes, however, that it is "not very good."
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Animate nominals with -ko, however, have no difficulty supplying antecedents 36.

(36) laṛke= ne āj subah ek laṛkī= ko dekh- vo bahut sundar thī

boy= erg today morning one girl. obl= ko see- pfv m sg. 3 sg very beautiful be. impf f sg
'The boy saw a girl this morning. She was very beautiful.'

These facts also explain the apparent ability of speakers to more finely tune the individuation of reference for
inanimate objects than for animate ones. They have more choice in the modulation of the individuation of their
object NPs with inanimate objects than with animate objects, resulting in minimal pairs such as the following:

(37) a. ye patr paṛh-ie

these letters read- imp pol
'Please read these letters.'

b. in patrõ= ko paṛh-ie
these. obl letters. obl= ko read- imp pol
'Please read these letters.' (Comrie (1989:133)) 15

The inherently greater degree of individuation associated with animate reference can also be seen in Hindi
interrogative pronouns. 'Whom' is invariantly -ko-marked, while 'what' can never be. Compare examples 30e and
30f from section 3.1.4 with the following:

(38) a. Rām= ne kis= ko kyā di-yā?

Ram= erg who= dat what give- pfv m sg
'What did Ram give to whom?' (Malhotra and Chandra (2007:59))

b. *Rām= ne kis= ko kyā= ko di-yā?

Ram= erg who= dat what= ko give- pfv m sg
*'What (one certain item) did Ram give to whom?'

Finally, the difference between inanimate and animate NPs laid out here suggests a brief examination of the
asymetry noticed by Mohanan(1993:28, n. 18), who explains that Hindi makes recourse to a hierarchy of animate
objects invoking a more or less arbitrary cut-off point somewhere in the higher mammals: "peacocks/peahens and
mice are generally classed as [-animate], but lions and elephants as [+animate]." The examples that follow
demonstrate that goats and cows seem to pattern as higher in animacy than chickens, which is what we might expect
to follow from Mohanan's analysis. However, fish, which we would expect to pattern as even lower in animacy, also
patterns like goat and cow (example 40e). Finally, mosquitoes appear in example 41a with -ko-marking preserved
under passivization. While mosquitoes, too, are free to take -ko when individuated, it is perhaps suggestive to
contrast the sentence with the fact, noted by Dayal (2011a:134-135) that makkhī-mārnā 'fly-killing' is a common
(pseudo-)incorporation with the idiomatic meaning 'to waste time.'

(39) a. us=ne ek bakrā / ek bakre-ko bec-aa

3 sg erg one goat/ one goat=ko sell- pfv 3 sg
'He sold a (particular) goat.' (de Hoop and Narasimhan (2005:329))

b. Ravī (ek) gāy kharīd-nā cāh-tā hai

Ravi (one) cow buy- inf wish- impfv m sg be. prs 3 sg
'Ravi wishes to buy a cow' (with no particular cow in mind).

NB: In example 37b, I have changed the demonstrative to the near form, in order to match the non-ko-marked form from example 37a.
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 25
c. Ravī ek gāy=ko kharīd-nā cāh-tā hai
Ravi one cow=ko buy- inf wish- impfv m sg be. prs 3 sg
'Ravi wishes to buy a (particular) cow.'

d. Ravī gāy=ko kharīd-nā cāh-tā hai

Ravi cow=ko buy- inf wish- impfv m sg be. prs 3 sg
'Ravi wishes to buy a particular cow.' (Mohanan (1994b:80, n. 33))

e. ghoṛe=ko mat mār-nā

horse. obl m sg= ko neg beat- inf
'Don't beat the horse!' (Snell and Weightman (2003:69, 268))

f. Rām= ne murgī mār-ī

Ram= erg chicken kill- pfv f sg
'Ram killed a chicken.'

g. Rām= ne murgī= ko mār-ā

Ram= erg chicken= ko kill- pfv m sg
'Ram killed the chicken.' (Singh (1994:227))

h. us=ke xansāme=ne bazār=se murgī=ko xarīd-aa

3 sg= gen cook. obl = erg market=from chicken=ko buy- pfv m sg
'His cook bought a particular chicken from the market.' (Butt (1995:19))

(40) a. Rām macchli pakaṛ rah-ā hai

Ram fish catch prog- m sg be. prs 3 sg
'Ram is catching fish.'

b. Rām=ne (ek) macchlī pakar-̣ī

Ram= erg one fish catch- pfv f sg
'Ram caught a fish.'

c. Sīta=ne macchlī=ko pakaṛ-aa

Sita= erg fish=ko catch- pfv m sg
'Sita caught the fish.' (Dayal (2011a:136))

d. Anu pūre din macchli pakaṛ-tī rah-ī

Anu all. obl m sg day. obl m sg fish catch prog f sg
'Anu kept catching fish all day.'

e. Anu pūre din ek macchli=ko pakaṛ-tī rah-ī

Anu all. obl m sg day. obl m sg one fish=ko catch prog- f sg
'Anu kept catching one fish all day.' (Dayal (2011b:35))

(41) a. maccharõ=ko mār-ā gay-ā

mosquitoes. obl m pl= ko kill- pfv m sg go- pfv m sg
'The mosquitoes were killed' (Snell and Weightman (2003:179))

b. Rām= ne ḍaṇḍe= se sā p̃ = ko mār-ā

Ram=erg stick=inst snake=ko kill.pfv m sg
26 Volume Title Will Show Here
'Ram killed the snake with a stick.' (Mohanan (1993:5))

In this subsection, I have tried to show that the use of -ko to mark indirect objects is aligns not primarily with
requirements of animacy, but with the demands of individuation and specificity. I have demonstrated that both
animate and inanimate object NPs combine with -ko with enough freedom to justify regarding the use of -ko as
optional in accords with the speaker's desire to reflect the semantic concerns of the speech situation. Furthermore, I
have made an explicit link between the concept and characteristics of topicalilty, especially its presuppositional
nature, and the type of DOM exhibited by -ko. In the next section, we turn to arguments that have been presented in
the literature to the effect that certain verbs are subject to lexical restraints on (in)animacy for the types of direct
objects they permit. The contention is that certain verbs can take only -ko-marked objects, while others take only
objects without -ko. I present new data and call attention to older data that demonstrate that such claims are either
incorrect or overstated.

3.2. -ko and verbal semantics. As we observed in section 1.1, various of the previous approaches to DOM
have placed heavy emphasis on the role of the semantics of either the object NPs or the verbs in determining
whether special object marking is realized. While Aissen (2003) falls into the first camp, Mohanan (1994b) typifies
the second.
Mohanan has claimed that the verbs likhnā 'write', paṛhnā 'read', pīnā 'drink', and banānā 'make' take only
inanimate (and hence not -ko-marked) objects while bulānā 'call' and mārnā 'kill' require animate objects marked
with -ko (Mohanan (1994b:81, and n. 34)). Keine (2007:78) observes that Montaut makes a similar claim in her
2004 Hindi grammar for the verbs paṛhnā 'read', pīnā 'drink', banānā 'make', and gānā 'sing', but I have been unable
to obtain a copy of the work in order to verify the accuracy of this report. Aissen (2003:449, n. 13) has noted a
couple of counterexamples to Mohanan's claims, as well as the fact that Mohanan appears to contradict herself on
this point in print. In her 1993 article on case alternation in Hindi, Mohanan writes (1993:24): "[T]he choice
between -ko marking and zero marking on PR.OBJ [primary object] is predictable on the basis of the animacy and
definiteness of the nominal in question, without making any reference to the theta roles or other meanings of the
verb." Aissen notes that the 1993 article was actually written after the material contained in the 1994 printing of her
doctoral dissertation, suggesting that perhaps her views on the subject had evolved. Nevertheless, since multiple
authors have repeated claims about the supposed lexical restrictions, and part of my own claim is that -ko-marking is
more or less completely optional, I will review the evidence against such proposals. Specifically, the data show that
likhnā 'write', paṛhnā 'read', pīnā 'drink', and banānā 'make' may all take inanimate objects marked with -ko while
bulānā 'call' and mārnā 'kill' may take animate objects that are not marked with -ko.
The following examples drawn from grammars and other print works on Hindi grammar demonstrate that likhnā
'write', paṛhnā 'read', and pīnā 'drink' may all take direct objects marked with -ko. Examples 42c, 42d, and 12b are
repeated from above.

(42) a. us= ne is ciṭṭhī= ko likh-ā hai

3 sg. obl= ne dem. obl letter. obl= ko write. pfv m sg be. prs 3 sg
'He has written this letter.' (Harley (1946:33))

b. Nādyā= ne ciṭṭhī= ko likh-ā hai

Nadya=erg letter=ko write-pfv m sg be.prs 3 sg
'Nadya has written a (particular) note.' (Butt (1993:92))

c. yah kitāb acchī hai. is= ko paṛh-o

this book good be. prs 3 sg. 3 sg. obl = ko read- imp
'This book's good. Read it.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:68))

d. un patrõ= ko paṛh-ie
those. obl letters. obl= ko read- imp pol
'Please read those letters.' (Comrie (1989:133))

e. Rām= ne kitāb= ko paṛh-ā

"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 27
Ram= erg book= ko read- pfv m sg
'Ram read the book.' (Kachru (1980:64))

f. pānī= ko pi-yo
water= ko drink-imp
'Drink the water.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:67))

The following examples showing that likhnā 'write' and banānā 'make' may both take direct objects marked with -ko
are both new to the literature on this subject. The data come from the 2008 Bollywood romantic comedy Rab ne
bana di jodi 'A match made by God.'

(43) a. is <<love story>>= ko rab likh-ā

this 'love story'= ko God write-pfvmsg
'God is writing this love story.' (Khan, Sharma, Pathak and Chopra (2009:2:23:30)) 16

b. niklā- thā nici= ko hãsā-nī, rāt= kī <<love story>>= ko banā- nī

set.out- impfv m sg Taani= ko laugh. caus- inf, night= gen 'love story'= ko make- inf
'I set out to make Taani laugh, to make the night's love story.' (Khan, Sharma, Pathak and Chopra (2009:2:21:46))

While it is true that it remains unlikely, if not impossible, that any of these verbs will take an animate, -ko-marked
object, the fact that they can occur with an inanimate object marked by -ko indicates the selectional restrictions of
the verbs themselves do not impinge upon the independent, pragmatically-driven choice of using -ko to mark their
direct objects.
On the other hand, bulānā 'call' and mārnā 'kill' have been claimed to permit only objects marked with -ko. We
already seen in examples13l, 13a and 13c that bulānā can be used, even with animate objects, without -ko, and in
example 39f that mārnā can be used without -ko. I repeat these examples below.

(44) a. aurat baccā bulā rah-ī hai

woman child call prog be. 3sg
'The woman is calling a child.'

b. darzī bulā-o
tailor call- imp
'Call a tailor.' (McGregor (1995:53))

c. pānī kā nal xarāb hai, fauran nal vālā bulā-o

water gen pipe broken be. 3 sg at once plumber call- imp
'The water pipe is broken; call a plumber at once.' (Schmidt (1999:71))

d. Rām= ne murgī mār-ī

Ram= erg chicken kill- pfv f sg
'Ram killed a chicken.' (Singh (1994:227))

I noted at the end of the previous section that, in accordance with Mohanan's animal animacy hierarchy, the noun
murgī 'chicken' appears to pattern as an inanimate. This fact notwithstanding, the claim about mārnā was that it
simply could not occur without a direct object marked by -ko. Such cannot be the case. Indeed, we should recall
from the end of section 3.1.5 that the idiomatic incorporation construction makkhī-mārnā 'fly-killing,' while a

In this example, the use of the perfective verb form is part of an idiomatic usage to indicate the immediate future, as when we say 'I'm coming
right now' meaning 'I'm just about to come' Delacy and Joshi (2009:102).
28 Volume Title Will Show Here
metaphorical extension from the literal act of killing flies, nonetheless takes as its basis a clause where mārnā does
not take -ko.
Finally, the following verbs have been repeatedly claimed not to permit their agents to bear the ergative marker -
ne in perfective aspect: lānā 'bring', bolnā 'speak', and bhūlnā 'forget' (Butt and King (2004:186);Gair and Wali
(1989:50); Kachru (1980:64); Mohanan (1994b:73); Keine (2007:77); Harley (1946:33)). These same verbs,
however, permit object -ko, as seen in the examples below. Now some have argued that the ability of a Hindi verb to
take -ko object marking is a necessary precondition for the ability of its subject to take the ergative marker -ne in
perfective aspect (de Hoop and Narasimhan (2005:329); Davison (2003a:5)). This dependency is interpreted as
reflecting an animacy constraint such as that imposed in the transitivity hierarchy proposed by Hopper and
Thompson (1980). That is, ergative marking is a sufficient condition for -ko marking, and -ko marking is a
necessary condition for ergative marking. In order to be able to act on and affect a high-animate object, the argument
goes, the subject must be high enough in animacy to be able to bear agentive marking. Davison (2003b:8) allows
that lānā and bolnā are lexical exceptions, but de Hoop and Narasimhan (2005:329) make the strong statement:
"When there is no possible alternation in subject position, there is no possible alternation in object position either."
The following examples show, however, that all three verbs freely take -ko-marked direct objects. If we remove
animacy restrictions from the use of -ko with these verbs, though, we have no reason to consider their object
marking exceptional.

(45) a. us baṛī kursī= ko is kamre= mẽ lā-ie

dem. obl big. obl f sg chair. obl f sg= ko dem. obl room. obl m sg= in bring- imp pol
'Please bring that big chair into this room.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:70))

b. mãĩ laṛke= ko yahā ̃ nahı̄ ̃ lā-yī

1 f sg boy= ko here neg bring. pfv f sg
'I didn't bring the boy here.' (Delacy and Joshi (2009:102))

c. vo is jhūṭh= ko nahı̄ ̃ bol-ā

3 sg dem. obl m sg lie. obl m sg= ko neg speak- pfv m sg
'He hasn't told this lie (though he's told others).' (Davison (2003b:8))

d. āpnī hindī= ko bhūl jā-ege

self poss Hindi= ko forget go- fut m pl
'You'll forget your Hindi.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:161))

e. tab to tumhẽ saphal lekhak bana-ne= ke sapne= ko bhūl- ho-

nā gā
then emph 2 sg. dat successful writer become- inf. obl= gen dream= ko forget- inf be- fut 3
'Then you'd better forget your dream of becoming a successful writer.' (Snell and Weightman (2003:182))

Kachru (1980:67, n. 6) observes that the inability of bolnā to occur with -ne was changing at the time of her writing,
especially in the area of Delhi and its environs. She noted it was "a marked tendency" of the time to use -ne with
bolnā at least in the spoken language. Indeed, in the 1962 Bollywood film Man-mauji 'The schemer/dreamer', one of
the most popular songs was Murgi ne jhuth bola 'the rooster told a lie.' The following is another example of the
construction from a modern grammar:

(46) laṛkī= ne jhūṭh bol-ā

girl. obl= erg lie speak- pfv m sg
'The girl told (spoke) a lie.' (Delacy and Joshi (2009:102))

bolnā excepted, however, lānā and bhūlnā both demonstrate the independence of -ne and -ko marking. Though the
failure of these verbs to take -ne almost certainly reflects a specific lexical exception for them, their optional
"Differential -ko marking": Case and object-marking in Hindi 29
behavior with -ko is exactly what we should expect upon the understanding that -ko-marking is driven not by
animacy constraints so much as by individuation.
In this section, I have tried to show that a number of posited, animacy-based lexical exceptions can be countered
with rich data from grammars and modern Hindi popular culture. I maintain that the freedom of most verbs to occur
with optional -ko-marked objects has little to do with the semantics of the verbs themselves, but much more with the
intended discourse referents of the object NPs themselves. Thus, my position more closely approximates that of
Aissen than Mohanan as far as the semantic dominance of either the NP or the verb is concerned. However, unlike
Aissen, I make greater utilization of the concerns of topicality in locating the motivation for -ko-marking within

4. Conclusion. In this study, I have argued that the Hindi case system involves a mixture of genuine,
morphological inflection (case) and postpositional clitics that serve as a quasi-analytic syntactic-case-marking
subsystem. As a clitic belonging to the class of primary, Layer I postpositions, -ko should not be treated as a marker
of case in the traditional sense. I have further argued that the true function of -ko derives from the semantics of
nominal reference and the discourse concerns of speakers to represent some items as more individuated than others
as situations dictate. Thus, -ko is an optional marker that correlates in several key ways with the notion of topicality,
though it is not, itself, a topic marker. I have shown that -ko can be used with both animate and inanimate, definite
and specific indefinite nouns, and that purported lexical constraints on its use with certain verbs are not supported by
the data. In effectively removing object-marking -ko from the case inventory of the language, I have demonstrated
another key factor in differentiating between the so-called "accusative" and "dative" uses of -ko.
Key to abbreviations
The glossing abbreviations used in this paper follow the Leipzig Glossing Conventions except insofar as certain
abbreviations necessary for my study are lacking form the Leipzig list. The following table lists all the abbreviations
used in this document.

1 = first person

2 = second person

3 = third person

all = allative

caus = causative

comp = complementizer

compl = completive

dat = dative

def = definite

dem = demonstrative

erg = ergative

f = feminine

foc = focus

fut = future

gen = genitive

imp = imperative

indf = indefinite
30 Volume Title Will Show Here
inf = infinitive

ipfv = imperfective

loc = locative

m = masculine

neg = negation, negative

obl = oblique

pfv = perfective

pl = plural

poss = possessive

prs = present

prog = progressive

prox = proximal/proximate

purp = purposive

rel = relative

sg = singular

top = topic

ko = ko

impf = imperfective

pret = preterite

dir = direct

interrog = interrogative
emph = emphatic

pol = polite

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