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Word Order and Case Endings

  Tags: Grammar
 Language Learning Forum : Philological Room Post Reply
13 messages over 2 pages: 1
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 Message 9 of 13
14 October 2013 at 4:28pm | IP Logged 
We can call the Korean markers ‘case clitics’, and the more familiar endings in European languages like German or Russian ‘case affixes’. Whether case is marked with clitics or affixes, I don’t think we can deny that Korean, German and Russian all have case systems. It wouldn’t do to mix up the surface realization with the underlying grammatical system. But if we refuse to recognize that Korean, Japanese etc have case, that’s what we are doing.

Let’s think of gender systems as an analogy. In French, to be sure of the gender we have to look at the article – le printemps but la saison, for example. Noun endings in French are not reliable indicators of gender. Articles in French would also be considered clitics. Contrast this with, say, Russian, where there are no articles, and the affixes generally do indicate gender, like –a for feminine nominative. So French uses clitics to mark gender, Russian uses affixes, broadly speaking. We shouldn’t try to say ‘No, they are marked differently, so we can’t say French and Russian both have gender as a grammatical category.’

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Super Polyglot
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 Message 10 of 13
14 October 2013 at 5:08pm | IP Logged 
But Swahili has loads of noun classes which you could classify as a gender system. We
just call it gender because in IE languages it often corresponds to a gender-based
distinction, but in Swahili the distinction is semantic. in Hungarian grammatical
gender is not even marked. So it's much better to think of noun classes which you name
for gender because that is convenient.

But I don't find case marking a good system to describe Korean markers because they're
simply particles you tack on to a word under very different circumstances than when you
use an IE-based case system. It's not the same principle at all. Furthermore the topic-
comment structure that you use in Japanese (and I think you have something similar in
Korean) is not at all the same idea as a sentence structure in terms of SVO which you
have in English or French. In Korean the use of case markings isn't always needed
because of context. in Russian, you MUST mark case, and that's something entirely
different. A case marking always exists, a marking particle is something you can use
(and sometimes are required to use) for certain emphasis but in many cases the context
provides enough meaning. I prefer to see these case markers as post-positions that are
sometimes required to indicate the function of a sentence, just like you do with
prepositions in other languages.

Does Hebrew have a case system because definite direct objects always have to be marked
with the preposition /et/? I don't think so. Otherwise you can argue that every
language has as much cases as it has prepositions. It's not the same. I see the Korean
markers more in a prepositional (or rather post-positional) function that can take one
or two forms based on phonological considerations, not based on their grammatical
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 Message 11 of 13
13 March 2014 at 3:03pm | IP Logged 
Strictly spoken a case system is one where the participants' role is marked by morphology, most often endings, but sometimes prefixes or ablaut. When the elements are not affixes they are called prepositions or postpositions. In more general theories any system in a language that marks the roles is called a case system.

In finnish there are endings, but also a rather impressive system of consonant and vowel ablaut in the last syllable of the stem.

The Berber languages have prepositions and a simple ergative case system mostly marked by prefixes.

Edited by Aquila123 on 13 March 2014 at 9:55pm

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 Message 12 of 13
13 March 2014 at 4:24pm | IP Logged 
Aquila123 wrote:
In finnish there are endings, but also a rather impressive system of consonant and vowel ablaut in the last syllable of the stem.

Hehe, the alternations for case in almost all Saamic languages go beyond impressive. Finnish gradation and ablaut seem like child's play.
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Monox D. I-Fly
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 Message 13 of 13
28 October 2015 at 3:38pm | IP Logged 
People keep wondering about SVO and SOV, while Arabic uses VSO instead...

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