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Re: Def. of Case WAS: Cases, again

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Thursday, March 18, 2004, 16:47

Matthew Kehrt <mkehrt@...> writes:
> English, we have words that take semantic roles based on word order, such > as direct and indirect objects and subjects. Other, more inflectional > languages mark these semantic roles with actual changes to the words > taking these roles. Which is the case, this specific set of marked words, > or the semantic role?
The distinctions made for marking are called case. It is purely syntactical. And semantics roles are just called 'semantic roles'. :-) For a given language, you can usually give a mapping from case to semantic roles and vice versa. This mapping usually gives several semantic roles for a case and also several cases for the role: E.g. German (not even nearly complete): case role nominative agent, patient, ... accusative patient, (spatial) destination (allative/illative), ... dative benefactive, locative (adessive/inessive)... ... 'Direct object' is another syntactical term, usually for the second argument of a transitive verb. In German, this means the argument that is assigned the accusative case. Languages often use terms like 'locative', 'adessive' for a case if that seems sensible for the usage of the case, while languages that do not have such a case, like German or Latin, use such a term for a semantical role only. Further, the assignment of case can often be changed by the voice (or the trigger if the language works like that), e.g. when using German's passive voice, the direct object becomes the subject (just like in English) and, therefore, the semantic role assigned the accusative case in active voice will be assigned the nominative in passive voice: the role does not change, just the case (and the degree of focus). Active voice: Ich schlage den Mann. I hit the man. ich: subject, case= nom, role= agent den Mann: dir.obj., case= acc, role= patient Passive voice: Der Mann wird geschlagen. The man is hit. Der Mann: subject, case= nom, role= patient
> That is, were I to have the sentence, "I hit the man", could "man" > be considered to be accusative, or is it merely the direct object of > the verb?
The latter, I think, since English does not have an accusative case (at least not very overtly).
> (Obviously, in the sentence "I hit him", "him" is in the accusative > as well as being the direct object.
Maybe for pronouns, case names are used, but as you write, the term 'objective form' seems to be used instead. Let's wait for answers of people who know the terms in English better. :-) **Henrik