Case and Alternative Strategies

Anna Siewierska and Dik Bakker

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199206476
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Case and Alternative Strategies

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



It is often assumed and sometimes explicitly stated that both agreement marking and word order constitute viable alternatives to morphological case with respect to some subset of the functions that case marking may fulfil. This article examines the extent to which this is indeed so and how the three forms of marking interact with each other on a cross-linguistic basis. First, it provides an overview of what are typically considered to be the primary functions of case marking, agreement, and word order, and then considers the ways in which case marking interacts with word order and agreement. It discusses the relationship between case marking and basic clausal constituent order first noted by Greenberg (1966), namely, the predilection for case marking of core grammatical relations in languages with basic APV order and the scarcity of case marking in languages with basic AVP order. The article also explores core grammatical relations including those found in ditransitive clauses, focusing on the differences in the degree of overlap in case and agreement marking exhibited by the verbal arguments.

Keywords: word order; agreement marking; case; case marking; grammatical relations; ditransitive clauses; verbal arguments

Article.  5996 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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