case/adposition term

Michael Noonan noonan at CSD.UWM.EDU
Tue Jul 11 19:46:18 UTC 2006

Martin et al:  I've recently been using the expression 'relational
morphology' to refer to the [often overlapping] sets of grammatical
relational morphemes and locative morphemes.  At least in some contexts,
the expression has the virtue of being neutral as to whether the items in
question are true affixes, clitics, or words.  As a shorthand term,
'relator' would be fine.  'Case', I think, should be avoided for this set
as it has legitimate alternative uses.  'Flag' would be acceptable since
it has no other uses in linguistics, but it is a bit opaque.  I would
therefore opt for 'relator'.


On Tue, 11 Jul 2006, Martin Haspelmath wrote:

> 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.
> Thanks,
> Martin
> -- 
> 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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