A Diachronic Perspective on the English Preposition TO and the Romanian Preposition LA

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Tania Zamfir


The paper discusses the different evolution of the English preposition (P) to and the Romanian P la “at/to” which can be observed in the history of English and Romanian ditransitives. In Modern English (ModE), the preposition to can occur in configurations with (i) ditransitive predicates and (b) unaccusative predicates. Within ditransitives, the English to only functions in the prepositional frame and it has a narrow distribution; the to-dative is a genuine Goal or a Recipient with certain verb classes. The first focus of this paper is to investigate the presence of the to-dative in Old English (OldE). The investigation will reveal that the to-dative construction was neither rare nor restricted, but already present in OldE. By way of contrast, Romanian la has a richer distribution (Possessor Goal, Beneficiary, Maleficiary and Source) and it has shifted from a case marker to a [Person] marker and it has moved in the direction of inflectional dative. The second focus of the paper is to investigate the presence of la in OldR. I will show that Romanian la evolved from the Latin P ad; diachronically, Romanian has kept the analytical marking of the Dative which is realized through the P la “at/to”.

Article Details

How to Cite
Zamfir, T. “A Diachronic Perspective on the English Preposition TO and the Romanian Preposition LA”. Linguaculture, vol. 12, no. 1, June 2021, pp. 150-62, doi:10.47743/lincu-2021-1-0193.
Author Biography

Tania Zamfir, Transilvania University of Braşov, Romania

Tania ZAMFIR, PhD is an external collaborator at Transilvania University of Brașov, in the department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. She has a PhD in Linguistics from University of Bucharest with the title Ditransitive structures: the English P “to” and the Romanian P “la”, under the supervision of Prof. Emeritus Alexandra Cornilescu. She is  interested in syntax, semantics and generative grammar and I am currently working on a project with the Romanian Dative.  



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Ureche − Grigore Ureche. Letopisețul țării Moldovei, ed. by P.P. Panaitescu, 1955, București: ESPLA.

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