DOM in Kodava takk: a complex interaction among multiple factors


  • Saurov Syed The University of Auckland
  • Catherine Lee The University of Auckland


This paper presents novel data from Kodava takk (Dravidian), also known as Coorgi, which exhibits the well-attested syntactic phenomenon of Differential Object Marking (DOM). Crosslinguistically, objects which are differentially marked tend to be associated with features such as specificity and/or definiteness, humanness, animacy, or a combination of these. Well- known examples of specificity-driven DOM include Turkish (von Heusinger and Kornfilt 2005) and Senaya (Kalin 2018), whereas direct objects in Spanish (Ormazabal & Romero 2013) and Hindi (Dayal 2011, Bhatt & Anagnostopolou 1996) receive differential marking on the grounds of animacy/humanness and specificity. As will be illustrated, this phenomenon is most definitely present in Coorgi, as the accusative case-marker does not always appear on direct objects. However, on the surface, there is no clear-cut featural split between objects which do and do not receive this case-marker. Instead, this differential marking is triggered by a complex interaction of multiple factors: animacy, specificity, number, humanness, and inherent lexical properties of verbs. This paper outlines the interactions which derive Differential Object Marking in Coorgi and offers a formal analysis to capture the empirical facts, which modifies Kalin’s (2018) account where DOM is a result of nominal licensing. This paper not only provides complex novel data from an understudied and endangered language, but also deepens our understanding of this crosslinguistic phenomenon, and calls into question the role grammatical Number plays in Differential Object Marking.