Varieties of Instrumental

Heiko Narrog

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Varieties of Instrumental

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Linguistic Typology



Instrumental case typically marks the semantic role of an instrument. There are seven strategies for the coding of concomitant functions, including instrumental functions. These are concomitant predication (converbs, gerunds, coverbs), adpositional marking, case marking, verb derivation, incorporation, conversion, and lexical fusion. Cross-linguistically, all of these strategies are also found for the marking of instrumental functions. Individual languages may have several of them, and may differ with respect to which of the strategies they prefer. This article deals not only with case marking, but also with adpositional marking. For one thing, instrumental marking through adpositions is more common than case marking, as the instrumental is typically not a structurally or syntactically definable case but a semantic case that marks peripheral participants and adjuncts. This article explores the functional varieties and polysemy patterns of the instrumental case by looking at a sample of 200 languages.

Keywords: instrumental case; concomitant functions; languages; instrumental functions; case marking; adpositional marking; adpositions; polysemy; predication; lexical fusion

Article.  2786 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology ; Linguistic Typology

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