Differential object marking in Sahidic Coptic

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In Coptic a direct object can either follow the verb directly or indirectly being introduced by a marker <i>n </i>(before nouns) or <i>mmo </i>(before pronouns). In a wide range of languages the direct object alternates between a morphologically marked and an unmarked form, so called ‘differential object marking’ (e.g., Bossong 1991; Bossong 1998: Lazard 2001). A well-attested language in which differential object marking (DOM) occurs, in my opinion, is Coptic. An analysis of all direct objects in the Gospels in Sahidic Coptic shows that contrary to common belief Coptic also exhibited differential object marking in agreement with patterns attested cross-linguistically. The main factors governing the distribution of object constructions in Coptic were referentiality and thematicity.


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