Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Voice Quality

By John H. Esling, Scott R. Moisik, Allison Benner, Lise Crevier-Buchman

Voice Quality "The first description of voice quality production in forty years, this book provides a new framework for its study: The Laryngeal Articulator Model. Informed by instrumental examinations of the laryngeal articulatory mechanism, it revises our understanding of articulatory postures to explain the actions, vibrations and resonances generated in the epilarynx and pharynx."

New from Oxford University Press!


Let's Talk

By David Crystal

Let's Talk "Explores the factors that motivate so many different kinds of talk and reveals the rules we use unconsciously, even in the most routine exchanges of everyday conversation."

E-mail this page

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: The Semantics of Dative and Accusative in German: An investigation in cognitive grammar Add Dissertation
Author: Michael Smith Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of California, San Diego, Linguistics Department
Completed in: 1987
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics;
Subject Language(s): German
Director(s): Ronald Langacker

Abstract: The semantics of the dative (DAT) and accusative (ACC) cases in German is examined within the theoretical framework of Langacker's cognitive grammar, which assumes a conceptual view of meaning wherein grammatical constructions represent the grammaticization of conventional imagery--they structure or construe situations in a particular fashion for linguistic purposes. Contrary to traditional accounts, which take cases as meaningless grammatical markers, this work assumes cases are intrinsically meaningful and investigates the array of meanings manifested by each case across representative constructions types. A basic prototype semantics is presupposed, where each case is assumed to define a complex category within which a constellation of senses joins to form a network of interrelated meanings. The distribution of DAT and ACC cases is shown to reflect a subtle semantic patterning which supports the hypothesis that they are meaningful.

Chapter 1 overviews previous syntactic and semantic approaches to case and presents a brief introduction to the cognitive grammar framework. Chapters 2-4 consider case semantics in the prepositional realm. In chapter 2 the use of DAT and ACC following the 2-way prepositions (which take either case) is explained in terms of change (ACC) vs. no change (DAT) relative to a conceived configuration designated by the preposition. Chapters 3 and 4 extend the analysis to the 1-way prepositions (where only one case is possible). In chapter 3 (ACC prepositions) the semantic notions of contact and completeness are motivated as sanctioning ACC; in chapter 4 (DAT prepositions) the variety of DAT uses are accounted for by arguing that DAT signifies a significant departure from the ACC.

Chapter 5 extends the analysis to the clause (actions and events). The notion of an action chain is used to show how clausal ACC evokes senses of contact and completeness, whereas DAT designates aspects of the experiencer prototype (as well as departure from the ACC in general). The semantic notions of bilateral involvement and asymmetry are proposed to subsume most uses of DAT and ACC, respectively, in the clausal realm.

Chapter 6 recaps the major findings and speculates on likely candidates for superschemas subsuming all uses of DAT and ACC in German.