Differential place marking and differential object marking

Martin Haspelmath 1 , 2
  • 1 Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Straße 10, Jena, Germany
  • 2 Leipzig University (IPF 141199), Nikolaistraße 6-10, Leipzig, Germany
Martin Haspelmath
  • Corresponding author
  • Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Kahlaische Straße 10, Jena, 07745, Germany
  • Leipzig University (IPF 141199), Nikolaistraße 6-10, Leipzig, 04109, Germany
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This paper gives an overview of differential place marking phenomena and formulates a number of universals that seem to be well supported. Differential place marking is a situation in which the coding of locative, allative or ablative roles depends on subclasses of nouns, in particular place names (toponyms), inanimate common nouns and human nouns. When languages show asymmetric coding differences depending on such subclasses, they show shorter (and often zero) coding of place roles with toponyms, and longer (often adpositional rather than affixal) coding of place roles with human nouns. Like differential object marking, differential place marking can be explained by frequency asymmetries, expectations derived from frequencies, and the general preference for efficient coding. I also argue that differential place marking patterns provide an argument against the need to appeal to ambiguity avoidance to explain differential object marking.

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STUF is a forum for scholarly articles in the realm of linguistic typology and universals research. The journal covers original empirical as well as theoretical studies of the structural diversity and/or of the invariants of human language(s). Contributions in the areas of areal typology and diachronic typology are also welcome.