adposition vs case vs relator

claude-hagege claude-hagege at WANADOO.FR
Wed Jul 12 15:37:29 UTC 2006

Dear all,

    The views expressed by Christian, Bill, Wolfgang and Paolo are interesting, with respect to this issue.
     I think neither adposition nor case are good terms:
         1) adposition only refers to the (admittedly most widespread) situation in which the syntacic relationship is marked by a morpheme which is located before (pre-) or after (postposition) (or on both sides of? (circumposition) ) its complement. Thus adposition does not take into account the tonal and stress strategies also available.
            2) case has become very frequent in linguistic research since Fillmore's 1968 article "The case for case". But there are drawbacks to its use. Although it originally had a morphological acception, having, for Latin and Greek grammarians of the past, like its Greek equivalent ptôsis, the meaning "fall", i.e.deviation from the nominative (then considered to be the base form), it has come to refer to the semantic aspect of the phenomenon: we say that in English the benefactive case is marked by the preposition for.
    Moreover, the term case, precisely because it is inherited from the classical tradition, implies that we are referring to inflectional languages, in which there are noun declensions in the strict sense of this term. It should be kept in mind that a postposition, for example, is not exactly the same phenomenon as a declension case, if only because, generally, it does not affect, or does not affect in the same way, the form of the noun to which it is applied.
    I would therefore suggest to use the term relator, which refers to the syntactic relationship in itself, and may be applied to any language, from those which, like Palawan, have only one relator to those which, like Udmurt or Tabassaran, have between 15 and 25.

Best, Claude.
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