Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Analogy: cases & prepositions; verbal inflection & adverbs

From:Ed Heil <edh@...>
Date:Friday, June 9, 2000, 15:32
Essentially a "case" is nothing but a preposition fused to the verb
and charged with grammatical necessity.  Grammaticized, as they say.
Made into a small and fixed class and made necessary.  But
semantically, cases tend to do similar work to
prepositions/postpositions.  Indeed, our beloved PIE case-endings are
almost certainly the grammaticized remnants of fused postpositions.

Now, when you take a large, semi-open class like prepositions and
reduce it to a small class like cases, you lose a lot of expressive
power, and you have to make up for it by adding *more* modifiers to
more precisely specify your meaning.  While in Latin, a bare case is
enough to specify verb-subject, verb-object, destination (sometimes),
location, means, possession, and several others, there are many other
things you might want to express about your noun's relations to other
sentence elements, and for that you need to throw additional
prepositions at the problem.  (And since grammaticalizing cases made
them necessary, you have to have a case AND preposition -- so that the
preposition *refines* the meaning of the case, rather than
substituting for it).

Now, this is very similar to verbal morphology and adverbs/particles.
A creole or other highly analytic language may have a past-tense
particle, or a progressivizing particle, or any of a dozen other
particles.  When these things get sucked into a grammaticalized
system, you may instead find a set of moods or tenses or aspects into
which the verb is required to fit.  But you will *still* have adverbs
and particles of other kinds, to help refine the meanings of the verb
to places your tense/modality/aspect system isn't complex enough to
travel to.

I just thought it was an interesting analogy. :)


On Tue, Jun 06, 2000 at 09:58:46PM -0400, Robert Hailman wrote:
> G'day y'all, I just have a few questions for you. > > In my conlang, tentatively called Ajuk, I've got seven cases: > Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive, Vocative, Ablative, and > Instrumental. I've gotten to the point where I have to divvy up the > preposition structure, and I realize that each in a language with case > the nouns in a prepositional phrase have to go into a certain case, > depending on the preposition and the meaning intended to be assigned to > it. > > At first I was intending to make a system like in German, but that only > covers four of my seven cases. The Vocative doesn't neccessarily need > any, because it is fairly limited in it's use. > > So what I want to know is, is there any particular system by which the > prepositions are divided up in the case structure, or is it different > from language to language, even in languages containing the same cases? > > Another thing, I've got pronouns that mean things like "for that > reason", "at some time", "in this manner", and such, and I need to > decide what case they would go in. This kind of ties into the > preposition structure, for example a word meaning "at some time" would > go in the same case as nouns in a prepositional phrase with a > preposition meaning "at". Again, is there any system to this throughout > several languages or do I just have to make my own? > > Anyways, thanks for your time, and I look forward to an answer. > > -- > Robert