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Re: Problems with Cases -- Ideas?

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, October 17, 2004, 6:22
From:    Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>
> I've been wondering just how much grammatical terminology > a 17th century monk like Conrad Vogelin would have had at > his disposal to describe Hairo. > > Would he know the terms absolutive and ergative at that > time? Would he invent other names, or maybe even map Hairo > grammar onto Latin case names despite the ergativity? Are > there old German names for absolutive and ergative, or would > he have used the Latin names?
My guess is that he would probably not use them. One of the people who recently graduated from our department is working on Karaja, an ergative Macro-Ge language spoken in Brazil. He told me that the first grammar had been written by a Jesuit priest in approximately the time period you're interested in, and that, although he did not err in analyzing it as a kind of obligatory passivization as one might be wont to do having been exposed only to European languages, he did not call the case forms "ergative" or "absolutive". IIRC, he simply said that the subjects of intransitive verbs take accusative case (which, given that case names are just labels, is a not inadequate analysis). As for the rest of your question about construct cases, my guess is that he would indeed know about this if he had any exposure to Hebrew, which is not unlikely. Not being a semiticist myself, this is nothing more than a guess. ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637