Zero marked locations/instruments?

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Thu Aug 14 02:29:31 UTC 2008


If what you're looking for is zero-marked locatives and instrumentals, 
then these occur quite commonly in some languages of the isolating type, 
in particular colloquial Indonesian and Javanese, plus many other 
smaller languages of Indonesia.  For some preliminary results of an 
experimental cross-linguistic study of these (and other similar) 
constructions, see

Gil, David (2008) "How Complex Are Isolating Languages?" in F. Karlsson, 
M. Miestamo and K. Sinnemäki eds., Language Complexity: Typology, 
Contact, Change, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 109-131.


> Hello once again- I've yet another query. Is it at all common for languages with differential case marking to split their location and instrument terms?
> Yahgan has -un/-an locative case suffix, but has many forms in the texts without any mark at all. In the former instance, the gloss is regularly 'in', but the zero-marked forms many times are glossed as 'at', but less commonly also 'in', 'from', 'to' depending on the verb semantics. The language does have marks -u:pai 'to' and -ndaulum 'from', when specification is wanted, but both these are actually multifunctional, as is -un/-an, with nonspatial uses.
> Terms in -a or -a:ci can be properly instrumental (though again with other functions possible), but so can zero-marked forms, even though the latter may also involve ingredients, parts, processes, etc.
> So is this the usual sort of thing one sees? Thanks.
> Jess Tauber
> phonosemantics at

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at

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