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Re: Case

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 11, 2008, 15:03

Mark J. Reed writes:
> So now I'm curious - how do languages without an instrumental/agentive > case distinction deal with clauses that require both roles? I'm > imagining the game of "Clue(do)", with statements like "Mr. Body was > killed by Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the Knife". In > languages where both the murderer and the weapon normally go in the > same case, how is the distinction made?
Do you feel you need the distinction? If both are marked the same, it'd be fine with me. Context disambiguates instrument and agentive perfectly (one's a person, one's, well, an instrument). Mr. Body was killed PREP Colonel Mustard PREP the knife. (With PREP being te same preposition, of course.) Apart from that, I could also imagine that a language without such distinction might use the subject slot for both instrumental and agentive and force you to decide which one to mention first (e.g., the agentive), and then using a second sentence to clarify the second (e.g. the instrument). In the worst case, you'd get a bit of redundancy: Colonel Mustard killed Mr. Body and the knife killed him. Or something like that. **Henrik