Author Topic: :: what is the difference between nominative and agentive case ? ::  (Read 7548 times)

Offline MDbaloch

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Hi everyone,
I am here again to ask you some  questions.
what is the  differences between the following cases:
 nominative and agentive case ?
 accusative and oblique case ?
nominative and ergative case ?
initiative and egressive case ?

 "cause of action" (animate or inanimate) = agentive case ?
source(animate or inanimate),instrument ,location and time of action = ablative case ?
Thank you all !

Offline Daniel

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Re: :: what is the difference between nominative and agentive case ? ::
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2014, 06:22:57 PM »
Some of those are just names for the same thing. Some vary by theory. Some overlap but have slightly different distributions.

nominative and agentive case ?
I've never heard of strictly agentive case. Nominative is for subjects. Agentive would be, I suppose, just agents. So "John dropped the book" has "John" in nominative and agentive. But "The book dropped" has "the book" in only nominative (not agentive).
The counterpart to nominative is accusative, and the (hypothetical?) counterpart to agentive would be patientive(?)

accusative and oblique case ?
Accusative is used for grammatical objects. Oblique is used for non-subjects. Generally for English "oblique" is more accurate for describing pronouns like "him" because it applies to typical accusative, dative and other case roles.
But the terms are often used interchangably given that accusative is seen as the core of the oblique cases.
As a similar case, consider German and Latin. Aside from genitive (and traces of older cases), German has 3 cases and Latin has 4. Where Latin has the ablative and dative, German has only the dative. But it's still called the dative even though it basically covers the functions of both. Likewise, the ablative in Latin is used for what was originally the instrumental (in Proto-Indo-European, in Sanskrit, etc.) and other functions.

So in the end, a lot of this is just literally names, nothing more.

As for "agentive" taking on a different meaning outside of nom-acc systems, see below.

nominative and ergative case ?
Look up nominative-accusative versus ergative-absolutive. It's very interesting, it's very counterintuitive (the first time you hear about it), and it's worth knowing.
Start here (among other places):–accusative_language#Nominative.E2.80.93accusative_vs._ergative.E2.80.93absolutive

The two systems are fundamentally different ways of dividing the roles in a sentence. There are no "subjects" (in the sense that we understand it for English) in those languages, because there is no nominative case. Instead, there are absolutives and ergatives, which are, in different ways, sort of like subjects and objects.

A = agent (typically transitive subject in nom-acc languages)
P = patient (typically object in nom-acc languages)
S = intransitive subject

Nominative: A,S
Accusative: P

Absolutive: P,S
Ergative: A

There are also various other systems-- most languages with some ergativity are in some way mixed (eg, different system in the past tense, or a different system for some pronouns, etc.), and some languages have a three-way split, while other languages have no distinctions at all (Chinese for example). And some languages split A and P but also split S for active and inactive-- "John dies" would be a different case than "John jumps", maybe basically an active/inactive binary distinction.

Lots to read on that, but there's a basic overview.

initiative and egressive case ?
You should look those up.
I'm not too familiar with the terms, but I think these have to do with direction and source.

"cause of action" (animate or inanimate) = agentive case ?
Quite possibly. Again, it depends on how the term is being applied.
source(animate or inanimate),instrument ,location and time of action = ablative case ?
That varies a LOT by language. For Latin that's about right, but not for all languages. The source (motion away from) usage is the primary one (for that term) while others like "instrumental" or "locative" are used for separate cases when those do exist.

In general, be very skeptical of exactly what case names are applied where. For example, in Arabic there are three cases: nominative, accusative and genitive. But they have almost nothing to do with their counterparts in Latin for example, aside from the very basics. Check the details.
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