On translating Ethical Datives in Russian and Macedonian

Dana Akanova, University of Chicago

Ethical Datives are Dative forms, proclitic in Macedonian and enclitic in Russian, which are used when a speaker chooses to express some kind of emotional alignment with the referent of this form. This use is possible due to the process of the Dative extending meanings farther than the prototypical Indirect Object (where Nominative acts on Accusative to bring it to the Dative), and becoming a "free Dative", i.e., where Nominative acts on Accusative in a Dative's sphere of control (Janda 1993). The motivation for using such forms is pragmatic, that is, the speaker chooses to linguistically encode the attitude of some entity. Unlike "regular" Dative forms the ethical Datives are facultative and depend on the linguistic preferences of the particular speaker. Not only the use of ethical Datives is conditioned by pragmatic considerations, but also, in most cases the interpretation of these forms is possible only pragmatically, by means of context.

This paper deals with issues of Russian to Macedonian and Macedonian to Russian translations of this construction (authors include Gogol, Chekhov, V. Pelevin, V. Tokareva, T. Tolstaja, S. Janevski, G. Abadzhiev, Zh. Chingo, and others). The data from the two languages will be compared and contrasted. The differences in the use of the ethical Dative in these languages range from statistic and stylistic (Macedonian uses them more frequently and in more registers than Russian), to formal (e.g., Macedonian ethical Datives can be doubled while Russian can not), to semantic (e.g., Macedonian reflexive ethical Datives in combination with the verbs of motion seem to have developed meanings not present in Russian; etc.) The results will contribute to the discussion on the semantics of Dative in general and ethical Dative in particular, and it can further the discourse analysis of these languages by elucidating communicative strategies and devices employed in these languages.

Janda, L. 1993. The shape of the Indirect Object in Central and Eastern Europe. Slavic and East European Journal, 37:533-563.