Oliver A. Iggesen
Many languages with nominal case inflection apply the same distinctions of case forms evenly across their entire nominal lexicon. Hence, all conceivable subclasses of nominals must unequivocally be analysed as exhibiting exactly the same inventory of case categories. This morphological state of affairs is known as case-symmetry. There are, however, languages in which certain (or all) case distinctions apply rather selectively to only a subset of their nominals, in such a way that the inflectional paradigms of the minority subclass can be envisaged as containing more, less, or substantially different case categories than the bulk of the nominals. In other words, certain morphological cases arguably fail to have scope over the entire nominal lexicon in such languages. This is known as case-asymmetry. This article discusses asymmetry in case marking, focusing on nominal vs. pronominal systems. It examines the theoretical implications and argumentative rationale of case-asymmetry and illustrates a case-asymmetrical paradigm structure: the opposition of direct case vs. objective case in English, which applies only to a small number of pronominal lexemes.
Canonical transitive events involve a volitional and controlling agent and a thoroughly affected patient. Any deviation from this prototype may result in a change in the coding of the denoted event. Case plays a central role in this process: accusative marking of patients (nom-acclanguages) and ergative marking of agents (abs-erg-languages) are usually associated with the coding of prototypical transitive events, while other case frames (such as nom-dat/ins or abs-dat/ins) usually code events with a decreased degree of transitivity. The changes in the case marking of (core) arguments may be motivated basically in two ways. First, the changes may follow from verbal morphology as is the case with such derived constructions as passive and antipassive. Second, the changes may follow independently of verb morphology. This article focuses on transitive clauses and the changes in the marking of agent and patient arguments. It first discusses the relation between case marking and transitivity from a formal perspective, and then considers the semantics of case in transitivity alternations.
Case is a category of marking dependent noun phrases for the type of relationship they bear to their heads. The three phenomena that are clearly determined by case functions in many languages are explored: phonological realization, selection, and agreement. A brief overview of influential approaches that offer an explanation for the CH and the constraints is provided. Markedness and grammaticalization approaches share a number of common assumptions and are able to explain case-based asymmetries by generalizations that are much wider in scope. It has revealed that from a typological perspective, cases are formally quite disparate elements, a distinction of broader typological relevance existing between inflectional affixes that characterize the synthetic type and free forms which establish the analytic type. The discussion of the semantic function of cases focuses on split-intransitive, ergative, and accusative patterns, which are well documented and extensively discussed in the typological literature.
Over the past two decades, linguistic typology has been moving increasingly away from its original goal of classifying languages into ideal types that would be constrained by categorical universals. What has been emerging as a new paradigm instead starts from the distribution of structures in the world, asking “what’s where why?” I present here a concrete approach to this question, called “Distributional Typology.” The approach starts from causal theories on the forces that affect language change, from processing preferences to the historical contingencies of language contact. The predictions of these theories can then be tested against fine-grained matrices of cross-linguistic diversity, using statistical methods for estimating diachronic trends from synchronic distributions.
Mark C. Baker
This chapter lays out an approach that combines a formal-generative perspective on language, including tolerance of abstract analyses, with a typological focus on comparing unrelated languages from around the world. It argues that this can be a powerful combination for discovering linguistic universals and patterns in linguistic variation that are not detected by other means.
This article outlines the typological variables that define or condition specific grammatical relations (GRs). It specifically discusses the relational roles and the referential properties of arguments. The article also reports the kinds of constructions that have GRs, and explores the interactions between GR definitions in different constructions. It then briefly addresses issues of worldwide distributions, and provides suggestions for future research. There is a common principle in the way referential features affect GR specifications. The properties of conjunction reduction are presented. The statistical evidence for referential hierarchy effects on case alignment is weak. GRs hold in constructions and not in languages. It is virtually impossible to estimate a priori which values on which variables will reveal significant clusters worldwide. The variables described in this article are meant to help in this work by providing a toolkit for comparing GRs across constructions in a single language, as well as across languages.
This article discusses the relationship between linguistic typology and formal grammar. It explores several areas where typology and formal grammar diverge, and where they most need to establish a viable dialogue: general goals, the nature of primary data, the structure of theory, and the significance of methodology. The article provides some (hopefully) constructive suggestions about bridging the gap between the two orientations; these include a possible shift in the research strategies used in typology and a significant shift in existing methodologies, of which all the orientations in linguistics need to be cognizant. It is striking and somewhat disconcerting how much particular orientations in modern linguistics differ with respect to what constitutes ‘proper’ data and what does not. The typological and formal orientations are united in their commitment to language and in their ability to enlighten other disciplines studying consciousness in the intricacies of language structure and linguistic diversity.
The term ‘morphological typology’ has been traditionally associated with the division of languages into basic ‘holistic’ types that could be used to characterize a complete language. Characterization of the morphological complexity of words is the sense in which morphological typology has traditionally been understood. Morphology's role is to interface between phonology and syntax. The variety of means by which morphology can perform the role of realizing morphosyntactic features is discussed. The weakness of traditional morphological typology was its overly ‘holistic’ approach. Theoretical morphology has come a long way since that time, but the ramifications of theoretical distinctions are still explored, such as that between realizational theories and lexical theories. Pure morphology, inflectional classes, and the different mechanisms associated with phenomena such as syncretism suggest a variety of dimensions along which the world's languages can be typologized.
This article explains the category person, and the status of the third person as a member of this category. It reports the different morphophonological realizations of person markers. The article then describes how the distinction between independent and dependent person forms relates to what is typically considered to be the primary grammatical function of the two types of forms, namely their role as pronouns and as agreement markers. Next, it explores how the different types of person markers are distributed cross-linguistically relative to syntactic function. The issues relating to morphological alignment are evaluated. The differences between the first and second person, on the one hand, and the third, on the other, have led many linguists, most notably Benveniste, to proclaim the third person a non-person. No clear associations between person and alignment comparable to that involving accusative and ergative can be discerned in relation to splits involving other combinations of alignments.
Andrej L. Malchukov
This article addresses rare phenomena in case marking, focusing on those which are exceptional in terms of distribution or function. First, it deals with cases deviant in distribution, then explores functionally unusual cases. It shows that in most cases, the rise of cross-linguistically unusual patterns can be straightforwardly explained in terms of functional and/or diachronic factors. Probably the best studied case of deviant distribution is the phenomenon of double case marking or Suffixaufnahme. Some of the most spectacular instances of multiple case marking come from Australian languages such as Kayardild and Nyamal. Multiple case marking may also arise in languages with so-called ‘templatic’ morphology, if case markers are distributed across several slots in the template. A pattern reminiscent of double marking is case layering as familiar from Indo-Aryan languages where case markers of postpositional origin attach to the oblique form of the noun. This article also discusses head-marking and displaced case markers in Tsimshian and Iraqw.
This article analyzes the factors determining the use of dedicated reflexives in natural language. It addresses the very diverse ways in which reflexivity is expressed and shows how to find the unity in this diversity. It takes as a starting point the fact that natural languages avoid expressions of the typeSubject Verb Pronominalwhere the subject binds the object (and cases of co-argument binding in general) and then addresses the question of why this would be so. One factor concerns properties of predicates. A second factor concerns the syntactic representation of dependences between arguments. The article puts these factors into a general perspective and surveys a number of puzzling cases, such as languages with apparently locally bound pronominals. It then shows how superficially similar expressions may actually have rather different structures, putting them outside the scope of the factors discussed. Thus the observed diversity in fact reflects uniform principles.
A spatial case is an inflected form of nouns or noun phrases distinct from the absolute form available for the extra-syntactic function of pure designation, and apt to fulfil one of the following functions without the addition of an adposition: non-verbal predicate, or predicative complement of a copula, specifying the location of an entity; verb satellite specifying the location of an event. This article focuses on problems in separating spatial cases from spatial adpositions; spatial cases in languages devoid of case contrast between core syntactic terms; case languages devoid of spatial cases; spatial cases and semantic classes of nouns; adverbs and adpositions inflected for spatial cases; semantic distinctions expressed by spatial cases; spatial case forms of locational nouns, spatial adpositions, and spatial adverbs; syncretisms between core syntactic cases and spatial cases; and non-spatial cases derived from spatial cases.
This article provides a sampling of just three areas of syntactic typology. The first deals with work carried out on relative clauses, one of the most thoroughly examined topics in typology, and one for which many outstanding overviews already exist. The second example covers the noun-phrase conjunction. The third example is an overview of research on content questions. Syntactic typology is concerned with discovering cross-linguistic patterns in the formation of particular constructions, whether those constructions are phrasal, clausal, or sentential. The key methodological issues that are ubiquitous in syntactic typology include multiple coding strategies, equivalence across languages, and interpretation of correlations. Typologists have long been aware of the need to control for areal and genetic factors when testing typological claims. However, the problem is that controlling for such biases in a language sample requires a sufficient number of geographically and genetically distinct languages.
This article describes some of the most central facets of transitivity in general. It briefly reports some of the definitions linguistic transitivity has been given. These comprise semantic (including functional-typological definitions), formal, and pragmatic (transitivity in discourse) approaches to transitivity. The number and marking of overt arguments, along with features of verb morphology, constitute the central formal features of transitivity. Additionally, some of the central semantic features affecting the formal transitivity of clauses are explored. The examined transitivity alternations are divided into intransitivizing and transitivizing alternations. Languages tend to encode the basic transitive event. They also differ considerably according to how the formal deviations from the transitive prototype are motivated and signalled.
Andrej L. Malchukov and Andrew Spencer
The sizes of case systems vary dramatically, from the minimal (two case) systems, to the large inventories exemplified by Daghestanian. An interesting question is whether there are any constraints on the types of possible case systems in the sense that availability of one case implies availability of another. The most concrete proposal of this kind so far is Blake's case hierarchy. Another general aspect of case systems which is subject to cross-linguistic variation is the relation between morphological versus syntactic case. ‘Morphological case’ (m-case) refers to an (inflectional) case form of a nominal, what might be called a formal characterisation. On the other hand, ‘syntactic case’ refers to the case function borne by a noun phrase in a phrase, and this is defined distributionally, in terms of grammatical relations, subcategorisation, agreement, and so on. It is important to bear in mind that we are thinking of ‘syntactic case’ in a descriptive or pre-theoretic sense. This article discusses typological variation in case systems and case marking.
This chapter first reviews some of the parameters along which compounds may vary, and then considers the extent to which observing such variation brings us closer to a typology of compounds. It discusses the formal marking of compounds, headedness, the order of elements in compounds, recursion in compounds, and the semantics of compounds.
Ferdinand de Haan
This article is concerned with the notions of tense, aspect, and modality from a typological point of view. It provides an overview of the major areas of ongoing research and also a description of where the three areas overlap or not. The semantic category of tense is usually defined as the linguistic representation of time. There are three absolute tenses: present, past, and future. The category of aspect tells how the action unfolds. The area of modality is concerned with notions such as obligation and necessity, possibility and permission, and volition and ability. The perfect is characterized as a past event with relevance to the present. The status of subjects of modal sentences and the phenomenon of split ergativity are investigated. The semantic map model is beneficial compared with other representational methods.
Jean-Pierre Desclés and Zlatka Guentchéva
Contemporary typology can be characterized as the study of cross-linguistic variations and the constraints that bear on them. Following the lead set by Greenberg (1963) and treating data from a wide range of languages, authors have explored numerous specific domains, including resultatives, and tense and aspect. Their methodology consists in data-driven research based on representative samples of languages and linguistic phenomena; effort is consequently made to guarantee both linguistic diversity and historical independence. The samples are culled from reference grammars, texts, questionnaires, and fieldwork. Although the search for language invariants is perfectly distinct from studies centered on cross-linguistic variation, the two nonetheless complement one another. This article is about universals and typology. It also discusses typology in linguistics, universals, invariants, primitives, typology of aspect, states, events, processes, perfectives and perfectivity, complete and incomplete aspectual opposition, and aspectualized relations in discourse temporality.
Seppo Kittilä and Andrej L. Malchukov
The core function of the accusative case is to encode the affected participant in a transitive clause. Finnish is representative of a nominative-accusative language because it shows that Patient objects of canonical transitive clauses will be eligible for acc case marking. In many languages, acc marking extends beyond semantically transitive clauses taking Agent and Patient arguments (such as ‘kill’ or ‘break’). Affectedness, a defining property of a patient, is not the only feature that determines (acc) marking of Os. Given that pronominals frequently display idiosyncratic behaviour as compared to nouns, differential marking of pronominal and nominal Os may seem a merely morphological matter. Accusative markers may attach either to a direct object or to other elements of clauses. This article discusses the formal varieties of the accusative case and examines the role of other features such as animacy for object marking. It uses the term acc (case) in a broad sense which will include, apart from case proper, also other forms of ‘dependent-marking’ including clitics, particles, and adpositions. Finally, the article considers functional varieties and polysemy patterns.
Thomas Stolz, Cornelia Stroh, and Aina Urdze
This article describes the formal varieties and polysemy patterns of comitative case based on a worldwide convenience sample of 320 languages (including regional varieties). The inventory of formal means expressing Comitative comprises the following major strategies: affixation (both on [pro]nouns and verbs), adpositional constructions, adverbial constructions, and serial-verb constructions. For the present purpose, these strategies are considered instances of case relators. In the sample, bound morphology encodes Comitative in 50 per cent of those cases which do not display Comitative-Instrumental syncretism. As to affixation, suffixation expectedly predominates. However, prefixation and circumfixation are also attested more than just once. Similarly, the adpositional strategies include prepositions, postpositions, and circumpositions. This article also discusses restrictions on the use of Comitative, uses of comitative markers in complex structures, and the diachrony of Comitative.