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Re: cases

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 12, 2000, 1:43
Padraic Brown wrote:

> On Mon, 11 Sep 2000, Thomas R. Wier wrote: > > >Nik wrote: > > > >> "Thomas R. Wier" wrote: > >> > That would make them "core" and "oblique" cases, respectively. > >> > >> But those aren't the terms traditionally used. They're called > >> Nominative/Accusative and Genitive/Dative. There's also a Vocative case > >> which is usually the same as nominative/accusative, but does differ for > >> some nouns. > > > >Calling the Romanian cases "nominative/accusative" and > >"genitive/dative" is about like calling English's cases > >"nominative/vocative" and > >"accusative/dative/ablative/instrumental/locative" just because Latin > >happened to use those names for those functions. > > Why? At least Romanian is a Latin derived tongue.
And this determines the terminology we should use for Romanian... why?
> I'd call our cases nominative, genitive and dative/accusative.
I wouldn't -- why make distinctions that aren't really there? Most modern grammars of English use Subjective and Objective today, since the objects of pronouns are never distinguished from the objects of prepositions. Also, the <'s> suffix really isn't a case, since it acts more like a clitic. You might call that the genitive clitic, however. The general point is: we as linguists should write grammars of languages based on the phenomena seen in those languages themselves, not based on any preconceived notions of the way the world works (like "the direct object is the accusative case").
> >The names of the cases in a given language ought to be given > >according to the function of the cases in that language, and not just > >because some other language happened to have cases which overlap with > >those of the language in question. Remember: every language's case > >system is unique, and so the labels we apply to them are fairly > >arbitrary. > > On the other hand, it is pretty damned handy to have names that are > similar across several language (families). It's just a matter of > learning how they all use their cases.
Of course. No one has said you can't call a case the "accusative" if it happens to behave a lot like, say, Greek or Latin's accusative. But that still doesn't change the fact that "accusative" is just a label we use as a tool to examine a phenomenon, not the phenomenon itself. ====================================== Tom Wier | "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." ======================================