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CHAT: Esperanto and prepositions taking the nominative [was Re: CHAT: Back on the list; Anti-conlanging bigots]

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Thursday, December 6, 2001, 19:01
Quoting Anton Sherwood <bronto@...>:

> "Thomas R. Wier" wrote: > > one day we were discussing how GB handles case marking, and the > > question arose whether there are any languages whose adpositions > > assign nominative case. I mentioned that I knew off the top of my > > head of no natural languages which marked case in that way, though > > I did know of a constructed language [Esperanto] that did this. . . > . > > um . . . remind me?
Well, in Esperanto, there are two main case markers: nominative (marked by a null ending) marks the subjects of sentences in both active and passive sentences, as well as the objects of prepositions. [My Esperanto is a little rusty, so I may get some of these wrong:] (1) a. La viro kaptis la fisxon. The man caught the fish. b. La viro estas vidita. The man is (being) seen. c. La viro iris ekster la domo. The man walked around (lit. went) outside the house. (i.e., "went" in the same general location) The accusative (-n) is Esperanto's other case (like English, it has only two), and it marks the direct object of sentences (as in 1a above), and may also be used in an allative sense with prepositions: (2) La viro iris ekster la domon. The man went outside the house. (i.e., moved from inside to outside) It is arguable, however, that this allative sense is really layered over the underlying case assignment of null-nominative. Note that we also see such layering in a natural language, German, where the dative is retained even when the passive is used: (3) Der(NOM) Mann hat mir(DAT) geholfen. The man helped me. (4) Mir(DAT) wird geholfen. I am helped. This could be seen probably as evidence that in Esperanto, we really have three cases: nominative, which takes a null ending and is also the assigned by all prepositions; the accusative, marked by -n and marks the direct object; and an allative, which is a noncore (oblique) case marker. There is lots of evidence that noncore case markers (like the German example above) are far more semantic in nature than core cases like the nominative and accusative. ===================================================================== Thomas Wier <trwier@...> <> "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n / Dept. of Linguistics mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..." University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought / 1010 E. 59th Street and not complete one road that has no turn" Chicago, IL 60637 Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers