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
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