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Indoeuropean linguistics?
Thread poster: Deschant

Deschant
Local time: 05:38
TOPIC STARTER
Cases Jan 14, 2005


Just to what level of grammar is the human brain capable before it impedes communication?


I've always wondered that when I studied Latin. I don't think a standard Roman could use properly the five cases in his everyday life. I was once told that in oral speech only two cases were used: nominative and and an accusative-whatsoever case (used in all the contexts in which a nominative wouldn't fit).

As for the cases vs articles question, I think that cases replace prepositions rather than articles.


 

Adam Bartley  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 16:38
Member (2011)
Latin to English
+ ...
Yep, just the four Jan 14, 2005

Spot on about the cases, Flav. There is a little used locative (for example, Athenaze - in Athens), and a vocative that barely exists. BUt the four are the functional ones. Compare with Russian, where all six are *very* much in use. Interesting about the Basque. Now I'm curious about the ergative...

 

Flavio Ferri-Benedetti
Switzerland
Local time: 06:38
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Oral Latin Jan 14, 2005

Eva Moreda wrote:


I've always wondered that when I studied Latin. I don't think a standard Roman could use properly the five cases in his everyday life. I was once told that in oral speech only two cases were used: nominative and and an accusative-whatsoever case (used in all the contexts in which a nominative wouldn't fit).


Indeed Eva. Spoken Latin was not as precise and perfect as written Cicero The oral Latin (vulgar Latin) later derived in medieval Latin and, thereafter, romance languages.

Cases were replaced by prepositions, eventually.

Flavio


 

Deschant
Local time: 05:38
TOPIC STARTER
Ergative Jan 14, 2005

I never succeed to understand completely the meaning of ergative, but I think it may be something like that:

1) Ergative languages have two cases that can work as the subject of a sentence:

- Nominative: when the verb is transitive (i.e. pair nominative- accusative).

-Ergative: when the verb is intransitive.

2) While non-ergative languages have only a case for that (nominative).

I know somebody who made researches on ergative remi
... See more
I never succeed to understand completely the meaning of ergative, but I think it may be something like that:

1) Ergative languages have two cases that can work as the subject of a sentence:

- Nominative: when the verb is transitive (i.e. pair nominative- accusative).

-Ergative: when the verb is intransitive.

2) While non-ergative languages have only a case for that (nominative).

I know somebody who made researches on ergative reminiscences in two Indoeuropean languages (English and Galician) for his Ph.D., but I don't know his conclusions...
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Helmet80
Local time: 05:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's something like that Jan 15, 2005

I was told it was used to replace the nominative when there was an object in the sentence, regardless of whether it was direct or indirect. Thus the only time the nominative would be used would be in statements involving one subject.

But I'm probably wrong!! I won the 'Failed Linguist' prize in 2003! I'm only on Proz.com because I'm still fascinated by language (rare for a Briton huh??!!)


 

Ioana Costache  Identity Verified
Romania
Member (2007)
English to Romanian
+ ...
more on ergativity Jan 16, 2005

Eva Moreda wrote:

I never succeed to understand completely the meaning of ergative, but I think it may be something like that:

1) Ergative languages have two cases that can work as the subject of a sentence:

- Nominative: when the verb is transitive (i.e. pair nominative- accusative).

-Ergative: when the verb is intransitive.

2) While non-ergative languages have only a case for that (nominative).


Dear Eva,

a distinction is operated between nominative-accusative languages on the one hand, and ergative-absolutive languages on the other hand.
As I'm not very good at explaining things in a reader-friendly way, I'm going to quote from Geert Booij's "Grammar of Words" (Oxford University Press, 2005).

"In Indo-European languages with morphological case systems the distinction between grammatical subject and grammatical object is marked by means of the opposition between nominative and accusative case. If there is only one argument (the case of intransitive clauses), it is case-marked as a nominative. When there are two arguments, the subject is marked as nominative and the object as accusative. This system is called the Nominative-Accusative system. An alternative case-marking system is the Absolutive-Ergative system used in, among others, many Australian languages. Usually, the symbols S, A, and O are used for the characterization of these two systems:

S = intransitive subject
A = transitive subject
O = transitive object

[...] In the Nominative-Accusative system A and S receive the same case marking, whereas in the Absolutive-Ergative system this applies to O and S. The following examples from German (15) and Dyirbal (16) illustrate the two different systems of case-marking (Dixon 1994: 10)." (Booij 2005: 192)
Now I'm going to slightly adapt the examples, i.e. I won't use very complicated glosses specifying lots of information - just what is relevant for our present purposes. Of course, any Nominative-Accusative language will do instead of German. The Dyirbal sentences are written in a very crude way, because IPA fonts cannot be used on this forum (or at least I can't use them).


(15) Der Mann lacht.
"The man (S) laughs" - S is in the Nominative case
Der Mann kauft ein Buch.
"The man (A) buys a book (O)". - A is in the Nominative, O is in the Accusative


(16) Numa nanagan'u.
"Father (S) returned". S is in the Absolutive
Yabu numangu buran.
"Father (A) saw mother (O)". A is in the Ergative, O is in the Absolutive case

The book quoted by Booij is "Ergativity" by R.M.W. Dixon, 1994, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Ergativity is also discussed in Robert van Valin's "Introduction to Syntax", Cambridge University Press, 2001 (and subsequent reprints).

Hope this helps

[Edited at 2005-01-16 23:12]


 

Adam Bartley  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 16:38
Member (2011)
Latin to English
+ ...
Nice work, and clear enough Jan 19, 2005

My thanks, Ioana. That makes good sense. Nice to see that aboriginal languages have been considered to, as many of them have a complex and very conservative grammar.

I've a friiend doing a PhD in Old English. I'll hve to aske her what she knows on this topiic, too.

Cheers,

Adam

Ioana Costache wrote:

Eva Moreda wrote:

I never succeed to understand completely the meaning of ergative, but I think it may be something like that:

1) Ergative languages have two cases that can work as the subject of a sentence:

- Nominative: when the verb is transitive (i.e. pair nominative- accusative).

-Ergative: when the verb is intransitive.

2) While non-ergative languages have only a case for that (nominative).


Dear Eva,

a distinction is operated between nominative-accusative languages on the one hand, and ergative-absolutive languages on the other hand.
As I'm not very good at explaining things in a reader-friendly way, I'm going to quote from Geert Booij's "Grammar of Words" (Oxford University Press, 2005).

"In Indo-European languages with morphological case systems the distinction between grammatical subject and grammatical object is marked by means of the opposition between nominative and accusative case. If there is only one argument (the case of intransitive clauses), it is case-marked as a nominative. When there are two arguments, the subject is marked as nominative and the object as accusative. This system is called the Nominative-Accusative system. An alternative case-marking system is the Absolutive-Ergative system used in, among others, many Australian languages. Usually, the symbols S, A, and O are used for the characterization of these two systems:

S = intransitive subject
A = transitive subject
O = transitive object

the Nominative-Accusative system A and S receive the same case marking, whereas in the Absolutive-Ergative system this applies to O and S. The following examples from German (15) and Dyirbal (16) illustrate the two different systems of case-marking (Dixon 1994: 10)." (Booij 2005: 192)
Now I'm going to slightly adapt the examples, i.e. I won't use very complicated glosses specifying lots of information - just what is relevant for our present purposes. Of course, any Nominative-Accusative language will do instead of German. The Dyirbal sentences are written in a very crude way, because IPA fonts cannot be used on this forum (or at least I can't use them).


(15) Der Mann lacht.
"The man (S) laughs" - S is in the Nominative case
Der Mann kauft ein Buch.
"The man (A) buys a book (O)". - A is in the Nominative, O is in the Accusative


(16) Numa nanagan'u.
"Father (S) returned". S is in the Absolutive
Yabu numangu buran.
"Father (A) saw mother (O)". A is in the Ergative, O is in the Absolutive case

The book quoted by Booij is "Ergativity" by R.M.W. Dixon, 1994, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Ergativity is also discussed in Robert van Valin's "Introduction to Syntax", Cambridge University Press, 2001 (and subsequent reprints).

Hope this helps

[Edited at 2005-01-16 23:12][/quote]


 

Ioana Costache  Identity Verified
Romania
Member (2007)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Australian languages Jan 19, 2005

Australian languages are a VERY interesting topic. Warlpiri is a favourite Fascinating stuff.
It's not exactly my merit if the explanation sounded right - all i did was quote from a good book...


 

Mario Marcolin  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:38
Member (2003)
English to Swedish
+ ...
More on ergativity Apr 7, 2005

Besides the interesting languages in Australia you also have Basque and quite a few languages in the Causacus and Meso-America
in this category

Good guides besides Dixon on subject marking (ie Nominative, Ergative etc) are

Comrie, Bernard. 1989. Language universals and linguistic typology: Syntax and morphology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Croft, William. 1990.
Typology and universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Best,
... See more
Besides the interesting languages in Australia you also have Basque and quite a few languages in the Causacus and Meso-America
in this category

Good guides besides Dixon on subject marking (ie Nominative, Ergative etc) are

Comrie, Bernard. 1989. Language universals and linguistic typology: Syntax and morphology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Croft, William. 1990.
Typology and universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Best,
mario

[Edited at 2005-04-07 07:51]
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Eugenia Cabrera  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 02:38
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
More about cases May 12, 2005

ANB0368 wrote:

Spot on about the cases, Flav. There is a little used locative (for example, Athenaze - in Athens), and a vocative that barely exists. BUt the four are the functional ones. Compare with Russian, where all six are *very* much in use. Interesting about the Basque. Now I'm curious about the ergative...


Hi everybody, the topic is really interesting.
I'm at university in Argentina now, studying classical Latin and Greek, and I was quite confused by all your comments about cases, because as far as I knew there is one more case in both languages which nobody mentioned: Vocative. I was told in Latin it coincides with nominative most of the times, but in Greek it has a different suffix, at least for the second "declinación" : -E. And in Latin we saw a few locatives, such as Romae, taking the form of a nominative used as a dative in archaic words.
Is it wrong?
Maybe you can enlighten me a little because I'm just starting to figure out a little on these two great languages.


 

Deschant
Local time: 05:38
TOPIC STARTER
Still on cases May 18, 2005

Hi Eugenia, and welcome! In fact, during my courses of Greek and Indoeuropean linguistics, I think we never discussed vocative. Vocative was considered a strange part of the sentence, not even a case... its pragmatical and synctatical functions are rather different from those of "normal" cases.

And as for locative, it's true that there were still some remains of it in Latin - but only remains. I mean, locative was not really a part of the system anymore, I don't think a normal speak
... See more
Hi Eugenia, and welcome! In fact, during my courses of Greek and Indoeuropean linguistics, I think we never discussed vocative. Vocative was considered a strange part of the sentence, not even a case... its pragmatical and synctatical functions are rather different from those of "normal" cases.

And as for locative, it's true that there were still some remains of it in Latin - but only remains. I mean, locative was not really a part of the system anymore, I don't think a normal speaker would think of it that way. The old locative forms were rather fossils.
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Flavio Ferri-Benedetti
Switzerland
Local time: 06:38
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Indoeuropean roots May 18, 2005

Eva Moreda wrote:

Hi Eugenia, and welcome! In fact, during my courses of Greek and Indoeuropean linguistics, I think we never discussed vocative. Vocative was considered a strange part of the sentence, not even a case... its pragmatical and synctatical functions are rather different from those of "normal" cases.

And as for locative, it's true that there were still some remains of it in Latin - but only remains. I mean, locative was not really a part of the system anymore, I don't think a normal speaker would think of it that way. The old locative forms were rather fossils.


Dear Eva,

I have a terrible problem with Indoeuropean roots. This is a "compulsory" topic in advanced Latin courses and I am trying to study it on my own, but I get very confused. It talks of three-letter roots, with strange rules that almost seems "scientific"

Can you point out a really clear book on this matter?

I have lots of books but probably lack the time to concentrate on those difficult explanations

Love,
Fla


 

Deschant
Local time: 05:38
TOPIC STARTER
Szemerenyi May 18, 2005

I used mainly O. Szemerenyi's Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics, which should be translated into Spanish as Introducción a la lingüística comparativa (Gredos, 1978). I found it rather clear and systematical, with lots of examples in the different languages which are really helpful to understand such an arid subject.

It may be also interesting to know who the Indoeuropeans were: André Martinet talks about it in "De las estepas a los océanos: el indoeuropeo y los indoeuro
... See more
I used mainly O. Szemerenyi's Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics, which should be translated into Spanish as Introducción a la lingüística comparativa (Gredos, 1978). I found it rather clear and systematical, with lots of examples in the different languages which are really helpful to understand such an arid subject.

It may be also interesting to know who the Indoeuropeans were: André Martinet talks about it in "De las estepas a los océanos: el indoeuropeo y los indoeuropeos", and he introduces some basic linguistics as well (but the book focuses mainly on history, archaeology, and culture).
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Flavio Ferri-Benedetti
Switzerland
Local time: 06:38
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Gracias Eva! May 18, 2005

Eva Moreda wrote:

I used mainly O. Szemerenyi's Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics, which should be translated into Spanish as Introducción a la lingüística comparativa (Gredos, 1978). I found it rather clear and systematical, with lots of examples in the different languages which are really helpful to understand such an arid subject.

It may be also interesting to know who the Indoeuropeans were: André Martinet talks about it in "De las estepas a los océanos: el indoeuropeo y los indoeuropeos", and he introduces some basic linguistics as well (but the book focuses mainly on history, archaeology, and culture).


Muchísimas gracias, Eva!

Voy a buscar el Szemerenyi

Fla


 

Maria Rosich Andreu  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:38
Member (2003)
Dutch to Spanish
+ ...
on cases Jul 6, 2005

I have somehow missed this forum but I want to make some considerations. Sorry if they are not as erudite as some others in this thread!

On cases: as I was told when I studied German, he use of cases is suffering a decline and specially Genitiv is on the way down. It is also known that speakers of vulgar Latin didn't declinate as strictly as educated speakers.

However, as I understand this is not the case with Russian. My Russian teacher used to explain to us that chil
... See more
I have somehow missed this forum but I want to make some considerations. Sorry if they are not as erudite as some others in this thread!

On cases: as I was told when I studied German, he use of cases is suffering a decline and specially Genitiv is on the way down. It is also known that speakers of vulgar Latin didn't declinate as strictly as educated speakers.

However, as I understand this is not the case with Russian. My Russian teacher used to explain to us that children of Russian parents that lived in the Netherlands (where I lived then) usually made many mistakes in the use of cases, even if both parents were Russian-speaking. She, on the other hand, always corrected her son so he had learned them well. My guess on this is that hearing proper use of cases might not be enough to learn them, even as a native speaker...

Once, when I studied in Moskow, I asked how did they teach the cases to children, and the teacher told me they were very strict with them on that since they were very small.

I would be very interested to know about Finnish, which I think has even more cases than Latin or Russian. Are all of them still used?
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