case/adposition term

Prof. Dr. Christian Lehmann christian.lehmann at UNI-ERFURT.DE
Tue Jul 11 15:33:05 UTC 2006

Dear Martin,

I cannot do the historical search, but I do have a comment.

1) I have an article in print in which I argue against "upgrading"
morphological concepts. Case is such a concept. It has been used in all
ways having to do with syntactic and semantic relational entities and
features, and the result is confusion. I would restrict the term 'case'
to what it meant 2000 years ago. This is a valid typological concept,
i.e. it allows us to make a useful distinction between languages that
have case and languages that don't (cf. Lehmann 2005

If those other 'case' concepts deserve a name (some of them don't), then
let a neologism be invented.

2) 'Relator' has a broad meaning not restricted to 'case and/or
adposition'. Relators comprise, i.a., interpropositional relators
(subordinators and conjunctions) and attributors. See Lehmann & Stolz
section 2.2.

3) I therefore opted for 'case relator' (e.g. in Thoughts on
grammaticalization). Surprisingly, a Google search for this term only
finds Lehmann publications as sources. I do not think I invented that
term, though.

4) I would be very reserved concerning a generic functional denominator
for case relators (i.e. cases and adpositions). On the one hand, there
are (at least) two different functions: The adposition typically codes a
specific semantic relation (like 'under' or 'thanks to'), while the most
grammatical cases (e.g. the German accusative) do nothing of the sort,
but just reflect a valency feature of their regens. On the other hand,
well-known cases of grammaticalization show that adpositions can become
cases ('case markers'), which means that the former of these functions
can pass over into the latter. Functional approaches usually ask for the
'underlying' function of an item. In a grammaticalization perspective,
that is the function of the item that is input to the process. In that
view, the function of the adposition as just characterized would be the
original, 'real' function of case relators.


Prof. Dr. Christian Lehmann
Philosophische Fakultät
Postf. 900221
D-99105 Erfurt

Tel.:	+49/361/737	-4200 (Sekr.)
			-4201 (selbst)
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E-Post:	Christian.Lehmann at Uni-Erfurt.De

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