After reading a bit on this, it seems that Paco's quote applies to Old English. In Slavic languages, including Serbian, the dative case is used to indicate "motion towards" http://www.lztranslation.com/pdf/serbia ... e-case.pdf
In addition to being used with verbs that take indirect objects, the dative case
may be used with motion verbs (verbs of going). The meaning of the dative
case here is to express the idea of seeing or visiting a place or person, as
seen in examples in Table 4.
Table 4: Some examples of dative nouns with motion verbs
Ja idem kući. I’m going home.
Oni su otišli svojim kućama. They went to their (respective) homes.
The dative case is also used as an object of some prepositions:
• prepositions: k, ka, and prema ‘towards, to’, indicating a direction or course of
movement or action.
The accusative case is also used to indicate that you are "going to some place" only focusing on the goal or the destination of the motion instead of focusing on the direction, which is what the dative is used for. Here's a nice explanation http://www.studyserbian.com/proba/Gramm ... e_Case.asp
Prepositions: u ‘in’, na ‘on/at’, po ‘by, through’, za ‘for’, pred ‘in front’, nad ‘above, over’, pod ‘under’, među ‘among’, uz ‘alongside, by, upward,up’, niz ‘downward, down’, kroz ‘through’. When used with these prepositions, the accusative case indicates the destination or goal of a movement or action expressed by a verb (examples 1-10) or it indicates time duration (examples 11-13).
In Old English and Latin, to indicate that you are "moving towards" the noun (entity the noun stands for) , you will inflect that noun the same way you inflect nouns to indicate that they're affected by the action of the verb, which means put it in the accusative case. Since the accusative in Old English is the same form as the nominative no actual inflection is done, but the form of the noun still reflects the syntactic position. I've found it explained in plain terms here http://acunix.wheatonma.edu/mdrout/gram ... Cases.html
Accusative: The direct object case, the accusative is used to indicate direct receivers of an action. The accusative case also indicates "motion towards," can be the object of a preposition such as "to," and can indicate the passage of time.
Dative / Instrumental: The indirect object and prepositional case, the dative/instrumental is used to indicate indirect receivers of action and objects of prepositions. The dative is also used to indicate the locations of non-moving objects (locative dative) and the instrumental identifies things that are being used ("instruments").
What seems very important to me here is to note that any case is used to indicate one prominent, primary
meaning, whatever the language. For example, you would associate accusative with "affected" and dative with "recipient", although there are other meanings indicated by either case. As a linguistic layman I can't say if the same morphological inflection of nouns, used to indicate different meanings, as the accusative, for example, is used to indicate "receiver of an action" and "motion towards", means that people were in short supply of letters to invent more different endings for nouns to express those meanings, or that they found those meanings related some way, on a metaphysical level at least. Whatever the answer to this question is, the fact is obviously that to say that you're moving towards something or someone, you would inflect the noun to the accusative in Old English and Latin, but to the dative case in Slavic languages. Of course, it is only meaningful to make this comparison having in mind the primary meanings of the dative and accusative case - "recipient" and "affected" respectively. "Locative" and "Instrumental ", mentioned in the quote as meanings of dative in Latin are separate cases in Serbian.
Anyway, English obviously prefers to have various source and direction prepositions in between the verb and the source/goal/destination to make clear where something or someone is headed or comes from. Serbian will use either prepositions (more often, just as English) or inflected form of the noun to indicate direction.
I'm going home.
The noun "kuća" is inflected to the dative case form "kući
" to mark directional reading.
I've noticed that this subject is pretty complex and branches off whenever you think you've come at any valid conclusion :) Things are becoming more complex when you take into account other verbs and idiomatic combinations like "hit the place" :
The President hits town
I only hit the gym
twice a week these days.