In Avestan, recurrent idiosyncrasies, mostly attested in the Young Avesta, are found in the case marking system: one of the most frequent anomalies is the accusative used in place of the nominative. This non-canonical marking of the subject is obviously relevant both for the study of the Avestan language and for historical-comparative linguistic studies, since accusative-marked subjects are found in several ancient Indo-European languages. Despite the fact that this phenomenon is regularly mentioned by Avestan grammars, it has not been properly investigated so far, either by philologists or by linguists. It has been tacitly assumed that such anomalous accusatives are errors due to the tortuous transmission of the Avestan texts. This article reconsiders the data reported in Avestan grammars and adds further examples to the bulk of the relevant data. As a result, a new interpretation based on both a linguistic analysis and an Indo-European comparison is proposed. Thus, it is argued that the accusatives found in place of a nominative cannot be taken as trivial mistakes since their distribution obeys certain principles. On the contrary, Avestan accusative subjects represent a linguistic phenomenon, only occasionally registered in the written texts and taking place under specific semantic and pragmatic conditions.

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