Cognitive meaning-based linguistic approaches have a number of important advantages. Firstly, they are based on a cognitively real framework which models linguistic usage in a way that is in accordance with human psychological processes. Thus, they draw on the common human cognitive abilities, making them the foundation of any linguistic analysis. These cognitive abilities make up the common human semantic potential, allowing linguists to look beyond the formal syntactic categories in their generalizations. Finally, since the categories used in the analysis are universal, they cut across traditional linguistic distinctions and permit a holistic view of language. Two caveats are in order here. Firstly, most cognitive theories do not wish to make a clean cut with the previous linguistic tradition, but are intent on drawing together existing data, accounts and intuitions into a single framework. Such efforts are important because they are constructive in nature. Secondly, there are a number of theories that would call themselves cognitive, but only a few of them are based on the principles described in the previous paragraph. Those that are, should (and often do) yield similar results despite different formal apparatuses. In this paper the authors are looking at the Croatian dative case in an attempt to give a cognitively real account of its usages. In order to do this they are using Langacker's cognitive grammar framework. The aim of the paper is to outline a semantically coherent view of the dative case in Croatian. More specifically, based on a corpus study of the occurrences of the dative in Croatian, the authors show that the semantic coherence of the dative hinges on the notion of the speaker's dominion. Such an account may be the basis of a further study of the notion of dominion, and its usefulness in the description of other phenomena cross-linguistically and diachronically. The paper is organized as follows. The following section gives the range of current usages of the Croatian dative case, based on the Croatian National Corpus. Next a very brief account of selected notions of cognitive grammar is given, with a particular emphasis on the notion of speaker's dominion. Section 3 explains why the dative in Croatian should be analyzed as a dominion phenomenon, and offers a discussion of the implications of such a view. Conclusions and suggestions for further research are presented in the final section.
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