Abstract and Keywords
An example of a generalisation that has become standard knowledge within general linguistics is M. Silverstein's (1976) proposal of an implicational preference hierarchy for the appearance of ergative case on subjects, known as the NP-hierarchy. But perhaps the most influential idea has been the proposed classification of languages into types based on the case marking of their core arguments, including C. J. Fillmore's case relations. A comparative look at the underlying ideas contained in syntactic theories from antiquity to modern times identifies several major lines of enquiry that have been postulated to help understand the distribution of case. Some of these include the notion of semantic roles, lexical decomposition, proto-roles, grammatical relations, and linking.
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