Volume 47, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper focuses on the history of a polyfunctional case marker 𗗙 in Tangut, an extinct Rgyalrongic language (Sino-Tibetan). This versatile case morpheme is a typological rarity of maximum syncretism among several abstract case functions, including differential object marking, the genitive, and the oblique (which overlaps with the dative). For one thing, accusatives originating from datives or spatial sources are rarely found with additional genitive functions; for another, reported instances of accusative/genitive syncretism seldom include other functions. The principal hypothesis of this paper is that the Tangut 𗗙 may be the result of multiple grammaticalization processes stemming from a proto-locative source. These processes can be subsumed under two pathways, one leading from an allative to an accusative, with an intermediate oblique stage, and the other from a locative to a genitive. Although both of these development pathways are frequently attested, the Tangut 𗗙 remains a typological rarity due to their superposition.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aissen, Judith
    2003 Differential Object Marking: Iconicity vs. economy. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory21(3): 435–483. 10.1023/A:1024109008573
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024109008573 [Google Scholar]
  2. Andvik, Erik
    2010A grammar of Tshangla. Leiden: Brill. 10.1163/ej.9789004178274.i‑490
    https://doi.org/10.1163/ej.9789004178274.i-490 [Google Scholar]
  3. 2017 Tshangla. InGraham Thurgood & Randy J. LaPolla (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan languages, 418–435. 2nd edn, London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Arakawa, Shintaro
    2010 Seika-go no kakuhyōshiki ni tsuite [on the Tangut case markers]. InHideo Sawada (ed.), Chibetto=Biruma-kei gengo no bunpō genshō 1: Kaku to sono shūhen [Grammatical phenomena of Tibeto-Burman languages 1: Case-marking and related matters], 153–174. Tokyo: Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. 2012 On the Tangut verb prefixes in ‘Tiansheng Code’. InIrina Popova (ed.), Тангуты в Центральной Азии: сборник статей в честь 80-летия профессора. Е.И.Кычанова [Tanguts in Central Asia: a collection of articles marking the 80th anniversary of Prof. E. I. Kychanov], 58–71. Moscow: Oriental Literature.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. 2018 Seikago no sōsū setsuoji ni tsuite [On the “dual” suffix of Tangut]. InTooru Hayasi, Tomoyuki Kubo, Setsu Fujishiro, Noriko Ohsaki, Yasuhiro Kishida & Mutsumi Sugahara (eds.), Yūrashia sho gengo no tayōsei to dōtai 20 gō kinengō [Diversity and dynamics of Eurasian languages: The 20th commemorative volume], 69–83. Tokyo: Consortium of Studies of Eurasian Languages.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. 2019 Seika-go no shieki ni tsuite [On the causative construction in Tangut] InTakumi Ikeda (ed.), Shina=Chibetto-kei sho gengo no bunpō genshō 2: Shieki no shosō [Aspects of causative construction], 135–147. Kyoto: Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Baerman, Matthew
    2009 Case syncretism. InAndrej L. Malchukov & Andrew Spencer (eds.), The Oxford handbook of case, 219–230. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Beaudouin, Mathieu
    2021 Localiser en tangoute: entre continuums et bipartitions. Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris116(1): 327–346.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. 2022 Tangut verb agreement: optional or not?Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area45(1): 93–109. 10.1075/ltba.21008.bea
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ltba.21008.bea [Google Scholar]
  11. . Accepted. Tangut and Horpa languages: some shared morphosyntactic features. Language and Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Blansitt, Edward
    1988 Datives and allatives. InMichael Hammond, Edith A. Moravcsik & Jessica Wirth (eds.), Studies in syntactic typology, 173–192. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.17.14bla
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.17.14bla [Google Scholar]
  13. Bossong, Georg
    1985Empirische universalienforschung: Differentielle objektmarkierung in den neuiranischen Sprachen. Tübingen: Narr.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. 1991 Differential object marking Romance and beyond. InDieter Wanner & Douglas A. Kibbee (eds.), New analyses in Romance linguistics, 143–170. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.69.14bos
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.69.14bos [Google Scholar]
  15. Chappell, Hilary & Shanshan Lü
    2022 A semantic typology of location, existence, possession and copular verbs: Areal patterns of polysemy in Mainland East and Southeast Asia. Linguistics60(1): 1–82. 10.1515/ling‑2021‑0219
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2021-0219 [Google Scholar]
  16. Chappell, Hilary & Jean-Christophe Verstraete
    2019 Optional and alternating case marking: Typology and diachrony. Language and Linguistics Compass13(3). Available at: 10.1111/lnc3.12311 (last access20 May 2022).
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lnc3.12311 [Google Scholar]
  17. Dalrymple, Mary & Irina Nikolaeva
    2011Object and information structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511993473
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511993473 [Google Scholar]
  18. DeLancey, Scott
    2011 “Optional” “ergativity” in Tibeto-Burman languages. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area34(2): 9–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Dixon, Robert M. W. & Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald
    (eds.) 2000Changing valency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511627750
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511627750 [Google Scholar]
  20. Endalew, Assefa
    2017 Multifunctional Morpheme jə- and -m in Ezha: An Ethio-Semitic Language. Macrolinguistics6(2): 24–36.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Gates, Jesse P.
    2021 A grammar of Mazur Stau. Paris: EHESS PhD dissertation.
  22. Genetti, Carol
    1997 Object relations and dative case in Dolakha Newari. Studies in Language211(1): 37–68. 10.1075/sl.21.1.03gen
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.21.1.03gen [Google Scholar]
  23. 2007A grammar of Dolakha Newar. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110198812
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110198812 [Google Scholar]
  24. Givón, Talmy
    1994 The pragmatics of de-transitive voice: functional and typological aspects of inversion. InTalmy Givón (ed.), Voice and Inversion, 3–44. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.28.03giv
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.28.03giv [Google Scholar]
  25. Gong, Hwang-cherng
    2001 Xīxià yǔ dòngcí de rénchēng hūyìng yǔ yīnyùn zhuǎnhuàn [Personal Agreements and Phonological Alternations in the Tangut Verb]. Language and Linguistics2(1): 21–67.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. 2003 Tangut. InRandy J. LaPolla & Graham Thurgood (eds.), The Sino-Tibetan languages, 602–620. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Gong, Xun
    2017 Verbs stems in Tangut and their orthography. SCRIPTA91. 29–48.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Heine, Bernd
    1997Possession: Cognitive sources, forces and grammaticalisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511581908
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511581908 [Google Scholar]
  29. 2009 Grammaticalization of cases. InAndrej L. Malchukov & Andrew Spencer (eds.), The Oxford handbook of case, 458–469. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Heine, Bernd, Ulrike Claudi & Friederike Hünnemeyer
    1991Grammaticalization: A conceptual framework. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Heine, Bernd & Tania Kuteva
    2002World lexicon of grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511613463
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511613463 [Google Scholar]
  32. Hetzron, Robert
    1977The Gunnän-Gurage languages. Napoli: Istituto orientale di Napoli.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Hill, Nathan W.
    2019The historical phonology of Tibetan, Burmese, and Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781316550939
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316550939 [Google Scholar]
  34. Honkasalo, Sami
    2019 A grammar of Eastern Geshiza: A culturally anchored description. Helsinki: University of Helsinki PhD dissertation.
  35. Iemmolo, Giorgio
    2011 Towards a typological study of differential object marking and differential object indexation. Pavia: University of Pavia PhD dissertation.
  36. Ikeda, Takumi
    2012 Verbs of Existence in Tangut and Mu-nya. InNathan W. Hill (ed.), Medieval Tibeto-Burman languagesIV1, 191–210. Leiden: Brill.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Jacques, Guillaume
    2004 Phonologie et morphologie du japhug (rGyalrong). Paris: Université Paris VII – Denis Diderot PhD dissertation.
  38. 2007Textes tangoutes I, nouveau recueil sur l’amour parental et la piété filiale (Languages of the World/Text Collections 25). München: Lincom Europa.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. 2009 The origin of vowel alternations in the Tangut verb. Language and Linguistics10(1): 17–27.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. 2011 The Structure of the Tangut verb. Journal of Chinese Linguistics39(2): 419–443.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. 2014Esquisse de phonologie et de morphologie historique du tangoute. Leiden: Brill. 10.1163/9789004264854
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004264854 [Google Scholar]
  42. 2017 Tangut, Gyalrongic, Kiranti and the nature of person indexation in Sino-Tibetan/Trans-Himalayan. Linguistics Vanguard. Available at10.1515/lingvan‑2015‑0033 (last access22 March 2022).
    https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2015-0033 [Google Scholar]
  43. 2021A grammar of Japhug. Berlin: Language Science Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Janhunen, Juha
    2003 On the taxonomy of nominal cases in Mongolic. Altai Hakpo131: 83–90.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Kepping, Ksenija Borisovna
    1975 Subject and Object agreement in the Tangut Verb. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area2(2): 219–231.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. 1985Тангутский язык: морфология [The Tangut Language: Morphology]. Moscow: Nauka.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Kittilä, Seppo
    2006 Object-, animacy- and role-based strategies: A typology of object marking. Studies in Language30(1): 1–32. 10.1075/sl.30.1.02kit
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.30.1.02kit [Google Scholar]
  48. Kotaka, Yuji
    2000 Seikago no kakujoshi ni kansuru tōgoronteki kenkyū [A synthetic study of Tangut case particles]. Hiroshima: Hiroshima University PhD dissertation.
  49. Lai, Yunfan
    2017 Grammaire du khroskyabs de Wobzi. Paris: Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 PhD dissertation.
  50. 2018 Relativisation in Wobzi Khroskyabs and how genitivisation enters it. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area41(2): 219–262. 10.1075/ltba.17015.lai
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ltba.17015.lai [Google Scholar]
  51. 2021 Jiāróngyǔzǔ yǔyán dòngcí de fēnlèi – yǐ Chuòsījiǎ (Lāwùróng) yǔ wéilì [The classification of verbs in Rgyalrongic languages, from a Khroskyabs perspective]. Yǔyánxué lùncóng [Essays on linguistics] 631: 68–95.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Lai, Yunfan, Guillaume Jacques, Xun Gong & Jesse Gates
    2020 Tangut as a West Rgyalrongic language. Folia Linguistica Historica41(1): 171–203. 10.1515/flih‑2020‑0006
    https://doi.org/10.1515/flih-2020-0006 [Google Scholar]
  53. LaPolla, Randy J.
    1992 ‘Anti-ergative’ Marking in Tibeto-Burman. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area15(1): 1–9.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. 2004 On Nominal Relational Morphology in Tibeto-Burman. InYing-chin Lin, Fang-min Hsu, Chun-chih Lee, Jackson T.-S. Sun, Hsiu-fang Yang & Dah-an Ho (eds.), Studies on Sino-Tibetan languages: Papers in honour of Professor Hwang-cherng Gong on his seventieth birthday, 43–73. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Lehmann, Christian
    2015Thoughts on grammaticalization (Classics in Linguistics 1). Berlin: Language Science Press, 10.26530/OAPEN_603353
    https://doi.org/10.26530/OAPEN_603353 [Google Scholar]
  56. Li, Fanwen
    2008Xià-Hàn Zìdiǎn [Tangut-Chinese Dictionary]. Beijing: Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Chubanshe.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Lin, Xiangrong
    1993Jiāróngyǔ yánjiū [A study of the Rgyalrong language]. Chengdu: Sichuan minzu chubanshe.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Lin, You-jing
    2016Jiāróngyǔ Zhuókèjīhuà yǔfǎ biāozhù wénběn [Cogtse Rgyalrong texts: Fully analyzed spontaneous narratives with an updated sketch grammar of the language]. Beijing: Shehui Kexue Wenxian Chubanshe.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. 2017 How grammar encodes space in Cogtse Rgyalrong. Himalayan Linguistics16(1): 59–83. 10.5070/H916130394
    https://doi.org/10.5070/H916130394 [Google Scholar]
  60. Malchukov, Andrej L., Martin Haspelmath & Bernard Comrie
    2010 Ditransitive constructions: A typological overview. InAndrej L. Malchukov, Martin Haspelmath & Bernard Comrie (eds.), Studies in ditransitive constructions: A comparative handbook, 1–64. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110220377.1
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110220377.1 [Google Scholar]
  61. Meyer, Ronny
    2005 The morpheme yä- in Muher. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics19(1): 40–63.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. 2011 Gurage. InStefan Weninger (ed.), The Semitic languages: An international handbook, 1220–1257. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110251586.1220
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110251586.1220 [Google Scholar]
  63. Mohanan, Tara
    1994Argument structure in Hindi. California: CSLI Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  64. Næss, Åshild
    2004 What markedness marks: The markedness problem with direct objects. Lingua1141: 1186–1212. 10.1016/j.lingua.2003.07.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2003.07.005 [Google Scholar]
  65. Nagano, Yasuhiko
    2018Gyarongo bunpō kenkyū [A reference grammar of the rGyalrong language – Bhola dialect]. Tokyo: Kyūko Shoin.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Narrog, Heiko
    2014 The grammaticalization chain of case functions: Extension and reanalysis of case marking vs. universal of grammaticalization. InSilvia Luraghi & Heiko Narrog (eds.), Perspectives on semantic roles, 71–99. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.106.03nar
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.106.03nar [Google Scholar]
  67. Nevskij, Nikolaj Aleksandrovich
    1960Tангутская филилогия, Исследования и словарь [Tangut Philology, Research and Dictionary]. Moscow: Vostochnaya Literatura.
    [Google Scholar]
  68. Nishida, Tatsuo
    1989 [2012] Seikago [Tangut]. InGengogaku Daijiten, vol.21, 408–429. Tokyo: Sanseido.
    [Google Scholar]
  69. Prins, Marielle
    2016A grammar of rGyalrong Jiǎomùzú (Kyom-kyo) dialects. Leiden: Universiteit Leiden. 10.1163/9789004325630
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004325630 [Google Scholar]
  70. Sagart, Laurent, Guillaume Jacques, Yunfan Lai, Robin J. Ryder, Valentin Thouzeau, Simon J. Greenhill & Johann-Mattis List
    2019 Dated language phylogenies shed light on the ancestry of Sino-Tibetan. PNAS116(21): 10317–10322. 10.1073/pnas.1817972116
    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1817972116 [Google Scholar]
  71. Shi, Jinbo
    2020Tangut language and manuscripts: An introduction. Leiden: Brill. 10.1163/9789004414549
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004414549 [Google Scholar]
  72. Shi, Jinbo, Zhenhua Huang & Hongyin Nie
    1993Lèilín yánjiū [A study on ‘the Forest of Categories’]. Ningxia Renmin Chubanshe.
    [Google Scholar]
  73. Simon, Camille
    2016 Morphosyntaxe et sémantique grammaticale du salar et du tibétain de l’Amdo: analyse d’un contact de langues. Paris: Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 PhD dissertation.
  74. Sinnemäki, Kaius
    2014 A typological perspective on Differential Object Marking. Linguistics52(2): 281–313. 10.1515/ling‑2013‑0063
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0063 [Google Scholar]
  75. Solonin, Kirill
    1995Dvendtsat’ Tsarstv. Neizvstnij Pamyatnik Tangutskoi Literatury [Twelve kingdoms: An unknown monument of Tangut literature]. St. Petersburg: Peterburskoe Vostokovedenie.
    [Google Scholar]
  76. Stassen, Leon
    2009Predicative possession. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  77. Sun, Hongkai
    1991 Cóng cíhuì bǐjiào kàn xīxiàyǔ yǔ zàmiǎn yǔzú qiāngyǔzhī de guānxì [The relationship between Tangut and the Qiangic branch of Tibeto-Burman from the perspective of vocabulary comparison]. Mínzú yǔwén [Minority Languages of China] 2(1): 1–11.
    [Google Scholar]
  78. Sun, Jackson T.-S.
    2000 Parallelism in verb morphology of Sidaba Rgyalrong and Lavrung in Rgyarongic. Language and Linguistics1(1): 161–190.
    [Google Scholar]
  79. 2007 Morphological causative formation in Shangzhai Horpa. Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics2(1): 211–232. 10.1163/2405478X‑90000031
    https://doi.org/10.1163/2405478X-90000031 [Google Scholar]
  80. Sun, Jackson T.-S. & Qianzi Tian
    2013 Huò’ěr yǔ géxī huà dòngcí duìxié [Verb agreement in Gexi Horpa]. Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics7(2): 203–223. 10.1163/2405478X‑90000120
    https://doi.org/10.1163/2405478X-90000120 [Google Scholar]
  81. de Swart, Peter
    2007 Cross-linguistic variation in object marking. Nijmegen: Radboud University PhD dissertation.
  82. Wang, Jingru
    1933 Lùn Sìchuān Qiāngyǔ jí Mǐyàoyǔ yǔ Xīxiàyǔ [The Shishiah and the Ch’iang and Minia Languages in Szŭch’uan Province]. InXīxià Yánjiū, vol.21, 278–288. Taipei: Academia Sinica.
    [Google Scholar]
  83. Witzlack-Makarevich, Alena & Ilja A. Seržant
    2018 Differential argument marking: Patterns of variation. InIlja A. Seržant & Alena Witzlack-Makarevich (eds.), Diachrony of differential argument marking, 1–40. Berlin: Language Science Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  84. Zhang, Shuya
    2020 Le rgyalrong situ de Brag-bar et sa contribution à la typologie de l’expression des relations spatiales: L’orientation et le mouvement associé. Paris: Institut national des langues et des civilisations orientales PhD dissertation
  85. Zhang, Shuya, Guillaume Jacques & Yunfan Lai
    2019 A study of cognates between Gyalrong languages and Old Chinese. Journal of Language Relationship17(1): 73–92. 10.31826/jlr‑2019‑171‑210
    https://doi.org/10.31826/jlr-2019-171-210 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): case syncretism; differential object marking; locative; Rgyalrongic languages; Tangut
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error