Case-Marking Typology

Beatrice Primus

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Case-Marking Typology

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  • Linguistics
  • Linguistic Typology
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



Case is a category of marking dependent noun phrases for the type of relationship they bear to their heads. The three phenomena that are clearly determined by case functions in many languages are explored: phonological realization, selection, and agreement. A brief overview of influential approaches that offer an explanation for the CH and the constraints is provided. Markedness and grammaticalization approaches share a number of common assumptions and are able to explain case-based asymmetries by generalizations that are much wider in scope. It has revealed that from a typological perspective, cases are formally quite disparate elements, a distinction of broader typological relevance existing between inflectional affixes that characterize the synthetic type and free forms which establish the analytic type. The discussion of the semantic function of cases focuses on split-intransitive, ergative, and accusative patterns, which are well documented and extensively discussed in the typological literature.

Keywords: case-marking typology; languages; markedness; grammaticalization; semantic function; phonological realization

Article.  7236 words. 

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

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