LINGUIST List 12.2680

Fri Oct 26 2001

Sum: Greek Clitic Doubling

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Andrew Janes, Greek clitic doubling

Message 1: Greek clitic doubling

Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:55:54 +0100
From: Andrew Janes <>
Subject: Greek clitic doubling

Last week I posted a request for some Greek data. I had
many helpful responses and I would like to thank the
following people:

Lena Agathopoulou, Dora Alexopoulou, Stella Markantonatou,
Toby Paff, Lukas Pietsch and Georgios Tserdanelis.

It was generally agreed that in a sentence containing a
ditransitive verb, the verb and its DP arguments could be
ordered freely. However, any clitic pronouns must directly
precede the verb. If there are direct and indirect object
clitics, the indirect object must come first. Clitic
doubling is permissible.

I Meri (tou) (ta) edose tou Giorgou ta vivlia.
the Mary him:GEN them:ACC gave the George:GEN the books:ACC
'Mary gave the books to George.'

I Meri tou ta edose.
'Mary gave them to him.'

The alternative periphrastic dative construction cannot
cooccur with the genitive clitic.

I Meri (*tou) (ta) edose ta vivlia sto Giorgou.
the Mary him them gave the books to:the George.

Other possible word orders include:

(Tou) (ta) edose tou Giorgou ta vivlia i Maria.
(Ta) edose i Maria ta vivlia sto Giorgo.
Tou Giorgou (tou) (ta) edose i Maria ta vivlia.

(The above is not an exhaustive list.)

Using the 'double object' construction without a GEN clitic
doubling the DP may lead to ambiguity, because 'tou Giorgou
ta vivlia' may also translate as 'George's books'.

Particles indicating tense, negation and mood precede the
pronominal clitics.

Exceptions to the above occur in imperatives and certain set
phrases, in which the clitic pronouns follow the verb. With
some imperatives, the direct object may, or must, occur
_before_ the indirect object, e.g:

Dostis ta.
Give:her:GEN them:ACC
Dosta tis.
Give:them:ACC her:GEN
'Give them to her'

Some other imperatives only allow the IO to precede the DO.
Dialect variation results in further differences.

I hope this summary is clear. If anyone has any questions,
comments, additional data or further suggestions, please
email me.

Andrew Janes
(3rd Year, English Language and Linguistics, Durham, UK)
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