Terminology of Case

Martin Haspelmath

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Terminology of Case

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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As in all areas of grammar, the terminology surrounding case phenomena is often not straightforward: Linguists with different backgrounds use the same terms for somewhat or radically different concepts, or they use different terms for very similar or identical concepts. It is unlikely that terminological consensus will emerge soon, primarily because there is no consensus about the concepts that we need, and terminological polysemy will continue to be rampant because there are many more concepts than handy terms. But it is useful to be aware of some of the most important terminological issues. This article discusses basic notions of case, different kinds of cases (grammatical cases vs. concrete cases, structural case and inherent case, oblique cases), alternatives to labelling, non-case uses of case labels, cases as language-particular categories, case polysemy, concrete nonspatial cases, and spatial cases.

Keywords: case; terminology; polysemy; concrete nonspatial cases; spatial cases; grammatical cases; concrete cases; oblique cases; labelling; case labels

Article.  5119 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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