case/adposition term

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE
Tue Jul 11 09:53:22 UTC 2006

I have a terminological question:

Cases and adpositions have many properties in common, so it is useful to 
have a term for a broader concept that includes both. I know of three 
proposals for such a broader concept:

(1) relator
(2) flag
(3) case

I'm interested in places in the literature where one of these three 
choices has been explicitly adopted, and of course in alternatives that 
I don't know about.

I have used (2) ("flag") myself in recent work (a 2005 paper published 
in "Linguistic Discovery", see, 
but I know that I didn't invent it. I think I have heard it in the 
context of Relational Grammar.

(3) is clearly the most widespread -- people routinely refer to 
adpositional markers as "case markers", but it has the disadvantage of 
introducing a polysemy of the term "case" (unless one abandons the old 
case concept and only talks about "analytic cases" and "synthetic 
cases"). Still, I'm interested in places in the literature where this 
terminological choice is explicitly adopted.


Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at
Max-Planck-Institut fuer evolutionaere Anthropologie, Deutscher Platz 6	
D-04103 Leipzig      
Tel. (MPI) +49-341-3550 307, (priv.) +49-341-980 1616

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