The Instrumental: dative and its double

Ludovico Franco, M. Rita Manzini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


We will argue that instrumentals are the mirror image of dative/genitive obliques. We propose that both sets of adpositions/cases are elementary predicates, expressing a zonal inclusion (part-whole/possession relation); instrumentals reverse the direction of the relation with respect to datives/genitives. Our claim is that with-type morphemes provide very elementary means of attaching extra participants (themes, initiators, etc.) to events (VP or vP predicates) – with specialized interpretations derived by pragmatic enrichment (contextual, encyclopedic) at the C-I interface. We will extend our proposal to account for the observation that the instrumentals can be employed cross-linguistically in triadic verb constructions alternating with datives and we will broaden our discussion to account for dative/instrumental syncretism (eventually including DOM objects), arguing that the inclusion predicate (എ) corresponding to to or dative case and its reverse (ഏ), corresponding to with or instrumental case, may reduce to an even more primitive content capable of conveying inclusion in either direction. Finally, we will address ergative alignments, showing that languages may attach external arguments/agents either as possessors (എ) or as causers (ഏ) of a given event/state, yielding the two most widespread patterns of syncretism of the ergative morpheme, that is with either instrumentals or genitives/datives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLa lingua e i parlanti
Subtitle of host publicationStudi e ricerche di linguistica
EditorsLeonardo M. Savoia, Benedetta Bald
Place of PublicationAlessandria, Italy
PublisherDell'Orso (Alessandria)
Number of pages47
ISBN (Print)978-88-6274-000-0
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameLingua e società. Percorsi di studio


  • Oblique
  • Italian
  • Syncretism
  • Argument alternations
  • Genitive
  • Dative
  • Instrumental


Dive into the research topics of 'The Instrumental: dative and its double'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this