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Are dative governing verbs in IE languages mainly inherited from PIE, or later developed within each IE language?

Linguistics Asked by wodemingzi on December 7, 2020

Some typical dative governing verbs in many IE case-inflecting languages are "help", "give" etc.. Are they mainly inherited from PIE or are they developed within each language? If the latter, is there any case where two IE case-inflecting languages have a highly non-coincident lexicon of dative requiring verbs?

One Answer

It is natural for a language that has the Dative case to use this case after verbs that have their action addressed for / to[wards] somebody or something, like “to help” and “to give”. In Russian, the corresponding verbs помочь and дать are also dative-governing, although the verbs themselves are definitely not etymological cognates of the German “helfen” (to help) and “geben” (to give) that govern Dative, it is the semantics of the verbs that suggests using the Dative case with them.

Still, the meaning of the Dative case in some languages can be paired with actions for which quite different governing is used in some other languages. I can compare German and Russian – I can speak both of them, and both of them have dative-governing verbs.

This page on a language learning site lists 36 most common German verbs that require Dative. Out of these 36 verbs, 10 verbs require another case or use a preposition + a case in Russian. 10 out of 36 is 27.8% which is almost one third:

  • ähneln D (to resemble smb/smth*) — быть похожим на Acc.
  • beitreten D (to join organization) — вступать в Acc.
  • danken D (to thank smb) — благодарить Acc.
  • folgen D (to follow smb/smth) — следовать за Instr.
  • gehorchen D (to obey smb) — слушаться Gen.
  • gratulieren D (to congratulate, greet smb) — поздравлять Acc.
  • sich nähern D (to approach smb/smth) — приближаться к D.
  • passieren D (to happen with smb/smth) — случаться с Instr.
  • zuhören D (to listen to smb/smth) — слушать Acc.
  • zustimmen D (to agree with smb/smth) — соглашаться с Instr.

smb/smth = somebody/something

Correct answer by Yellow Sky on December 7, 2020

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