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What is case?

 

Definition
 

Case is a grammatical category determined by the syntactic or semantic function of a noun or pronoun.

Discussion
 

The term case has traditionally been restricted to apply to only those languages which indicate certain functions by the inflection of

 
  • nouns
  • pronouns, or
  • noun phrase constituents, such as adjectives and numerals.
 
Example:

The Latin sentencesCanis hominem mordet ‘Dog bites man’ and Canem homo mordet ‘Man bites dog’, illustrate that differing case endings express the differing functions of the nouns in Latin.

 

The term is sometimes extended to include such functions expressed by adpositions.

Example (Japanese)
 
  • In the following sentence, case is indicated by the case markers ga, ni, and o:

    John ga Mary ni hon o yatta
    John NOMINATIVE Mary DATIVE book ACCUSATIVE gave
    ‘John gave Mary a book.’
    Source:

    Kuno 1973 4–5

  • Kinds
      Here are some kinds of cases:
     
    Generic
      Case is a kind of
     
    Sources
     

    Pei and Gaynor 1954 35

     

    Crystal 1980 53–54

     

    Anderson, S. 1985 179–180

     

    Andrews, A. 1985 71–72

     

    Mish 1991 211

     

    Kuno 1973 4–5


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    Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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