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Re: THEORY: "Quirky" Case -- "Quirky" Subjects and "Quirky" Objects

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Friday, July 29, 2005, 8:39
Tom's q's:
1a) How many, and what, cases can grammatically be given to the Subject?

Any number and any case.

1b) What language holds the record for most cases the Subject can
have?  What is the record?

Beats me.  Doesn't seem like an important question.  I believe there
are verbs
of Latin that require a subject to be in each of it's major cases
(i.e., not including
the vocative).

2a) How many, and what, cases can grammatically be given to the Object?
2b) What language holds the record for most cases the Object can
have?  What is the record?

Same answers (except the Latin part, though it might still be true).

There's never a one-to-one mapping between morphological case
and semantic roles in natural languages.  For that reason, one can
think of an argument for any case being assigned to any semantic
role.  I'm sure if you think one up, a language does it.  It all depends
on what's being focused on.  A lot of languages assign a dative case
to experiencer subjects.  Why?  Because experiencer subjects are
different from non-experiencer subjects.  They don't need to be
treated differently, but many languages do treat them differently.
Now why the dative specifically?  It has something to do with the
idea that a being is *given* an experiencer, or the receiver of an
experiencer.  That is, there's some semantic connection between
the semantic role and the case assigned it (though this connection
may no longer be an active part of anyone's grammar).

Given that example, it's not hard to imagine that any number of
cases could be assigned to any number of semantic roles.  Imagine
a culture that thought of all physical action as a result of a process
that takes place inside one's body.  Now imagine this language has
a lot of local cases.  It might produce a situation where sentient
beings take the inessive case when they're the subject of a verb
of physical action.  Non-sentient beings, however, would just take
the nominative.  It's highly improbable (if not impossible) that a
natural language would do this, but with creative conculturing,
you can imagine just about anything.

"sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison


Markus Miekk-oja <m13kk0@...>