Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the main aspects of the reduction/loss of case and the decay of case marking systems. The general mechanisms which lead to the merger of case and case syncretism and, eventually, to the loss of (some) cases include: phonetic processes which result in the loss of the difference between two or more case forms, that is, erosion of case inflection, and, thus, in case syncretism; the overlapping of syntactic and semantic functions and/or uses of individual cases, that is, syntactic and semantic affinity of some cases; semantic or functional overlapping of whole argument structures; and a variety of analogical developments and paradigmatic levelling. The interplay between phonetic erosion and the semantic/functional overlap of case forms and argument structure constructions can be demonstrated with examples from several Indo-European languages, as these provide rich evidence for various scenarios of the decay and collapse of case systems. The ultimate case syncretism is typically preceded by a period of variation and alternation between case forms or argument structures.

Keywords: Indo-European languages, case syncretism, argument structures, case forms, case, case marking, case inflection, phonetic erosion

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.