Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Ehrhart, Sabine

Covered by:
Elsevier - SCOPUS
Clarivate Analytics - Emerging Sources Citation Index

CiteScore 2018: 0.70

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.288
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.544

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Gradient Effects of Animacy on Differential Object Marking in Turkish

Elif Krause / Klaus von Heusinger
Published Online: 2019-06-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2019-0011


Animacy is a pervasive cognitive category that is displayed in the grammatical behavior of the world’s languages through categorical or gradient effects. We argue in this paper that animacy is a crucial parameter for Differential Object Marking (i.e., the optional marking of the direct object) in Turkish. DOM languages are typically categorized according to their dependency on definiteness and animacy. Turkish has thus far been assumed to depend only on definiteness; however, we present the first set of empirical evidence based on perceived acceptability judgment measures that show a significant effect of animacy on Turkish DOM. Moreover, we show the gradient nature of this effect. This original finding provides further evidence for the assertion that animacy is a crucial linguistic parameter in Turkish DOM and illustrates how the conceptual category of animacy is deeply entrenched in the grammar of Turkish.

Keywords: animacy; gradience in grammar; prominence hierarchy; specificity; case marking; overt accusative marking; Turkish DOM; direct object; optionality; grammaticality judgment data


  • Aissen, Judith. 2003. Differential object marking: Iconicity vs. economy. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 21(3). 435–483.Google Scholar

  • Austin, Peter. 1981. Case marking in Southern Pilbara languages. Australian Journal of Linguistics 1. 211–226.Google Scholar

  • Aydemir, Yasemin. 2004. Are Turkish preverbal bare nouns syntactic arguments? Linguistic Inquiry 35(3). 465–474.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Baayen, R. H. 2008. Analyzing linguistic data. A practical introduction to statistics using R. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Bamyacı, Elif, Jana Häussler & Barış Kabak. 2014. The interaction of animacy and number agreement: An experimental investigation. Lingua 148. 254–277.Google Scholar

  • Bates, Douglas, Bolker Ben & Martin Mächler. 2012. lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using S4 classes. R package version 0.999999-0.Google Scholar

  • Blake, Barry. 2004. Case. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Ina & Matthias Schesewsky. 2009. The role of prominence information in the real-time comprehension of transitive constructions: A cross-linguistic approach. Language and Linguistics Compass 3(1). 19–58.Google Scholar

  • Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Ina & Matthias Schlesewsky. 2014. Scales in real-time language comprehension: A review. In Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Andrej L. Malchukov & Marc D. Richards (eds.), Scales and hierarchies. A cross-disciplinary perspective, 321–352. Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Bossong, Georg. 1983. Animacy and markedness in universal grammar. Glossologia 2:7-20.Google Scholar

  • Bossong, Georg. 1985. Empirische Universalienforschung: Differentielle Objektmarkierung in den neuiranischen Sprachen. Tübingen: Narr.Google Scholar

  • Chiriacescu, Sofiana. 2014. The discourse structuring potential of indefinite noun phrases. Special markers in Romanian, German and English. Stuttgart: Universität Stuttgart dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Comrie, Bernard. 1975. Definite and animate direct objects: A natural class. Linguistica Silesiana 3. 13–21.Google Scholar

  • Comrie, Bernard. 1989. Language universals and linguistic typology: Syntax and morphology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Dede, Müserref. 1986. Definiteness and referentiality in Turkish verbal sentences. In Dan I. Slobin & Karl Zimmer (eds.), Studies in Turkish linguistics, 147–163. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Dryer, Matthew S. 2005. Order of subject, object and verb. In Martin Haspelmath, Matthew S. Dryer, David Gil & Bernard Comrie (eds.), The world atlas of language structures, 330–333. UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Enç, Mürvet. 1991. The semantics of specificity. Linguistic Inquiry 22. 1–25.Google Scholar

  • Erguvanlı, Eser Emine. 1984. The function of word order in Turkish grammar. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar

  • Erguvanlı, Eser Emine & Karl Zimmer. 1994. Case marking in Turkish indefinite object constructions. In Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, 547–552. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.Google Scholar

  • Folli, Raffaella & Heidi Harley. 2008. Teleology and animacy in external arguments. Lingua 118. 190–202.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gair, James. 1970. Colloquial Sinhalese Clause Structure. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar

  • Givón, Talmy. 1978. Definiteness and referentiality. In J. H. Greenberg, C. A. Ferguson & E. A. Moravcsik (eds.), Universals of human language, 291–330. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Givón, Talmy. 1983. Topic continuity in discourse: An introduction. In Talmy Givón (ed.), Topic continuity in discourse: A quantitative cross-language study, 1–42. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Göksel, Asli & Celia Kerslake. 2005. Turkish: A comprehensive grammar. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Heath, Jeffrey. 1980. Basic materials in Ritharngu: Grammar, texts and dictionary. Canberra: Australian National University.Google Scholar

  • von Heusinger, Klaus & Elif Bamyacı. 2017. Specificity effects of Turkish differential object marking. In Leyla Zidani-Eroğlu, Matthew Ciscel & Elena Koulidobrova (eds.), Proceedings of the 12th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL12), Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.Google Scholar

  • von Heusinger, Klaus & Georg A. Kaiser. 2003. Animacy, specificity, and definiteness in Spanish. In Klaus von Heusinger & Georg A. Kaiser (eds.), Proceedings of the Workshop Semantic and Syntactic Aspects of Specificity in Romance Languages (Arbeitspapier 113), 41–65. Universtität Konstanz.Google Scholar

  • von Heusinger, Klaus & Jaklin Kornfilt. 2005. The case of the direct object in Turkish:Google Scholar

  • Semantics, syntax and morphology. Turkic Languages 9. 3–44.Google Scholar

  • von Heusinger, Klaus, Jaklin Kornfilt & Semra Kızılkaya. (to appear). Differential Object Marking, partitivity and specificity in Turkish. In Tanya Bondarenko, Justin Colley, Colin Davis & Mitya Privoznov (eds.), Proceedings of the 14th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL14). MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar

  • Hoeks, John C. J., Laurie A. Stowe & Gina Doedens. 2004. Seeing words in context: The interaction of lexical and sentence level information during reading. Cognitive Brain Research 19. 59–73.Google Scholar

  • de Hoop, Helen & Bhuvana Narasimhan. 2005. Differential case-marking in Hindi. In Mengistu Amberber & Helen de Hoop (eds.), Competition and variation in natural languages: The case for case, 321–345. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar

  • Ioup Georgette. 1977. Specificity and the interpretation of quantifiers, Linguistics and Philosophy 1, 233-245.Google Scholar

  • Kamali, Beste. 2015. Caseless direct objects in Turkish revisited. In André Meinunger (ed.), Byproducts and side effects : Nebenprodukte und Nebeneffekte. ZAS Papers in Linguistics 58, 107–123. Berlin: ZAS.Google Scholar

  • Kibrik, Andrej E. 1985. Towards a typology of ergativity. In Johanna Nichols & Anthony C. Woodbury (eds.), Grammar inside and outside the clause, 286–324. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Kornfilt, Jaklin. 1997. Turkish. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Kornfilt, Jaklin. 2008. DOM and two types of DSM in Turkish. In Helen de Hoop & Peter de Swart (eds.), Differential subject marking, 79–111. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar

  • Kornfilt, Jaklin & Klaus von Heusinger. 2009. Specifity and partitivity in some Altaic languages. In Ryosuke Shibagaki & Reiko Vermeulen (eds.), Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Formal Altaic Linguistics (WAFL 5), 19–40. Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.Google Scholar

  • Kuperberg, Gina R., Tatiana Sitnikova, David Caplan & Phillip J. Holcomb. 2003. Electrophysiological distinctions in processing conceptual relationships within simple sentences. Cognitive Brain Research 17. 117–129.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kuperberg, Gina R., Donna A. Kreher, Tatiana Sitnikova, David N. Caplan & Phillip J. Holcomb. 2007. The role of animacy and thematic relationships in processing active English sentences: Evidence from event-related potentials. Brain and Language 100. 223–237.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Lazard, Gilbert. 1984. Actance variations and categories of the object. In Frans Plank (ed.), Objects: Towards a theory of grammatical relations, 267–292. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar

  • Leonetti, Manuel. 2004. Specificity and differential object marking in Spanish. Catalan Journal of Linguistics 3. 75–114.Google Scholar

  • Lyons 1999. Definiteness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Mak, Willem M., Wietske Vonk & Herbert Schriefers. 2002. The influence of animacy on relative clause processing. Journal of Memory and Language 47. 50–68.Google Scholar

  • Mak, Willem M., Wietske Vonk & Herbert Schriefers. 2006. Animacy in processing relative clauses: The hikers that rocks crush. Journal of Memory and Language 54. 466–490.Google Scholar

  • McGregor, Roland Stuart.1972. Outline of Hindi grammar. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar

  • Malchukov, Andrej L. 2008. Animacy and asymmetries in differential case marking. Lingua 118. 203–221.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Özge, Umut. 2011. Turkish indefinites and accusative marking. In Andrew Simpson (ed.), Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL8), 253–267. Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.Google Scholar

  • Öztürk, Balkiz. 2005. Case, referentiality and phrase structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Seidel, Elyesa. (to appear). Bare direct objects in Turkish: Pseudo-incorporated or weak arguments. In Tanya Bondarenko, Justin Colley, Colin Davis & Mitya Privoznov (eds.), Proceedings of the 14th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL14). MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar

  • Sezer, Engin. 1972. Some observations on the role of genitive phrases in Turkish nominalizations. Unpublished M.S., Harvard University.Google Scholar

  • Silverstein, Michael. 1976. Hierarchy of features and ergativity. In Robert M. W. Dixon (ed.), Grammatical categories in Australian languages, 112–171. Canberra: Australian National University.Google Scholar

  • de Swart, Peter. 2007. Cross-linguistic variation in object marking. Nijmegen: Radboud University Nijmegen dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Team, R Core. 2012. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.Google Scholar

  • Tigau, Alina-Mihaela. 2012. The accusative morpheme -(y)i in Turkish and differential object marking in Romanian. Bucharest Working Papers in Linguistics 14 (2), 57- 76.Google Scholar

  • Traxler, Matthew J., Robin K. Morris & R. E. Seely. 2002. Processing subject and object relative clauses: Evidence from eye movements. Journal of Memory and Language 47. 69–90.Google Scholar

  • Traxler, Matthew J., Rihana S. Williams, Shelley A. Blozis & Robin K. Morris. 2005. Working memory, animacy, and verb class in the processing of relative clauses. Journal of Memory and Language 53. 204–224.Google Scholar

  • Tura, Sebahat. 1973. A Study on the articles in English and their counterparts in Turkish. Michigan: University of Michigan dissertation.Google Scholar

  • Westfall, Peter H., Randall D. Tobias & Russell D. Wolfinger. 2011. Multiple comparisons and multiple tests using SAS. Cary, NC: SAS Institute.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2017-11-11

Accepted: 2019-02-22

Published Online: 2019-06-03

Published in Print: 2019-01-01

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 171–190, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2019-0011.

Export Citation

© 2019 Elif Krause et al., published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License. BY 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in