Case Grammar Model

Why Case-marking Matters

Case-marking is an important part of grammar. What it does is identify for us the role that a particular noun phrase (or clause) fills in a sentence of a language.

The mechanisms English uses for marking case are: word order; prepositions; the apostrophe and ‘S’ for the possessive; and a set of pronouns, including special forms [like “she” for subject and “her” for object and “your” for possessive], pronoun suffixes [like “-m” on “whom,” “-s” on “its,” and “-se” on “whose”].

Láadan uses word order and a set of case-marking suffixes.


The Five Subject Case Categories

The only one of the Subject case markers that has a preposition of its own in English is Agent, and that preposition is “by.” As in “The apple was eaten by John.” The other four are marked by word order — by their position in the sentence — and by their meaning.

In Láadan, all five Subject cases are marked by word order — by their position in the sentence. For the pattern that corresponds to the AGENT/by pair in English, please see “The Láadan Passive” (coming soon).

1. ACTOR

In English:

John sneezed.

In Láadan:

Bíi eril oób omid wa.

“The horse jumped.”


2. AGENT

In English:

John ate an apple.

In Láadan:

Bíi eril bóodan háawith ruleth wa.

“The child rescued the cat.”


3. EXPERIENCER

In English:

John was puzzled.

In Láadan:

Bíi eril óoha with wa.

“The woman was weary.”


4. IDENTIFIER

In English:

John is an artist.

In Láadan:

Bíi le with wa.

“I am a woman.”


5. NEUTRAL

In English:

New York is a city.

“Neutral” because New York isn’t doing anything or experiencing anything.

In Láadan:

Bíi owa ana wa.

“The food is hot.”


 

The Twelve Other Case Categories:

6. OBJECT

In English, OBJECT case is marked by word order — by the position the item takes in the sentence.

John ate an apple.

In Láadan, OBJECT case is marked by the suffix “-th” .

Bíi eril yod be yuth wa.

“She ate fruit.”


7. GOAL

In English, GOAL case is marked by the preposition “to”.

John went to the barn.

John gave an apple to the baby.

In Láadan, GOAL case is marked by the suffix “-di”.

Bíi aril sháad le shéedi wa.

“I’ll go to the desert.”

Bíi eril ban le áabeth omádi wa.

“I gave the book to the teacher.”


8. SOURCE

In English, SOURCE case is marked by the preposition “from”.

John came from the seashore.

John took an apple from the baby.

In Láadan, SOURCE case is marked by the suffix “-de”.

Bíi eril sháad le wethede wa.

“I came from the road.”

Bíi eril bedi le Láadaneth omáde wa.

“I learned Láadan from the teacher.”


9. PATH

In English, PATH case is most often marked by the prepositions “through,” “across,” “along,” or “over.”

John went from the seashore through the woods to the barn.

In Láadan, PATH case is marked by the suffix “-mu” and an independent postposition.

Bíi eril sháad háawith olinemu obe ábededi wa.

“The child went through the forest to the farm.”


10. ASSOCIATE

In English, ASSOCIATE case is marked by the preposition “with”.

John danced with the teacher.

In Láadan, ASSOCIATE case has two possible markers: the suffix “-den”, which is a neutral form; or the suffix “-dan”, which adds the meaning “with pleasure.”

Bíi eril hal be witheden wa.

“She worked with the woman.”


11. INSTRUMENT

In English, INSTRUMENT case is marked by the preposition “with”.

John ate spaghetti with a fork.

In Láadan, INSTRUMENT case is marked by the suffix “-nan”.

Bíi eril yod le máath badanan wa.

“I ate the egg with a spoon.”


12. BENEFICIARY

In English, BENEFICIARY case is marked by the preposition “for”.

John bought a highchair for the baby.

Láadan has four choices for BENEFICIARY case:

  • the suffix “-da”, meaning “voluntarily”;
  • the suffix “-dáa”, meaning “obligatorily, as by duty”;
  • the suffix “-daá”, meaning “accidentally”;
  • and the suffix “-dá”, meaning “by force, against X’s will.”

Bíi ril hal be omáda wa.

“She works for the teacher.”


13. LOCATION

English has a number of choices for prepositions that mark LOCATION case in space and in time: for example, “at, in, on, under, beside, behind” for space; “before, after, during, until” for time.

John prayed at the church.

John left for school at seven o’clock.

In Láadan, LOCATION case in space is marked by the suffix “-ha”, except that when the final syllable of the marked item is “-ha” the suffix becomes “-sha”. LOCATION case in time is marked by the suffix “-ya”.

Bíi eril mehal ben betheha wa.

“They worked at home.”

Bíi eril mehal ben náaleya wa.

“They worked at night.”


14. MANNER

In English, MANNER case can be marked by the preposition “in” with the pattern “in a/an [adjective] manner.” However, its most common marker is the suffix “-ly”.

John worked in an industrious manner.

John worked industriously.

In Láadan, MANNER case is marked by the suffix “-nal”.

Bíi eril hal omid lóolonal wa.

“The horse worked slowly.”


15. REASON

In English, REASON case is marked by the preposition “for” or “because of”.

John played tennis for fun.

In Láadan, REASON case is marked by the suffix “-wáan”.

Bíi eril delishe be ludewáan wa.

“She cried because of the debt.”


16. PURPOSE

In English, PURPOSE case is marked by the preposition “to” and sometimes the phrase “in order to.”

John played tennis to impress his friends.

In Láadan, PURPOSE case is marked by the suffix “-wan”.

Bíi eril sháad be bethedi áanawan wa.

“She went home to sleep.”


17. POSSESSIVE

In English, POSSESSIVE case is marked by the preposition “of”, by apostrophe and ‘S’, and by special possessive pronouns.

She was the sister of the queen.

She was the queen’s sister.

In Láadan, POSSESSIVE case is marked by one of five suffixes:

  • “-tha”, by reason of birth;
  • “-thi”, by reason of chance;
  • “-the”, for unknown or unacknowledged reasons;
  • “-thu”, the false (“partitive”) possessive, as in “a dress of velvet”;
  • “-tho”, other (purchase, gift, law, custom, et cetera).

Bíi eril meláad len beth nethoth wa.

“We saw your home.” [Literally, “We saw the home of you.”]

..

-da morpheme used to identify the _beneficiary_ of an action — the person [or other entity] for whom or for which an action is done; Case Marker: suffix for beneficiary- voluntarily
-dá Case Marker: suffix for beneficiary- by force, against X’s will
-daá Case Marker: suffix for beneficiary- accidentally
-dáa Case Marker: suffix for beneficiary- obligatorily, as by duty
-dan Case Marker: suffix for Associate – with pleasure (see also ‘-den’)
-de Case Marker: suffix for source
-den Case Marker: suffix for Associate – neutral form (see also ‘-dan’)
-di a morpheme that means “to,” as in “I walked to the house.”: Bíi ril sháad Athid buzhedi wa. (“Athid is going to the con.”); Case Marker: suffix for goal (see also ‘-dim’)
-dim a morpheme that means “to,” as in “I walked to the house.”: Case Marker: Suffix for goal (see also ‘-di’) used in cases when ‘-di’ (goal) ending is hard to distinguish from the ‘-de’ (source) ending
-ha morpheme used to indicate where something or someone is located; Bíi ril Athid botheha wa. (“Athid is at the hotel.); Case Marker: suffix for place (see also ‘-sha’)
-mu a morpheme meaning “path”; In English, the PATH case is most often marked by the prepositions “through,” “across,” “along,” or “over.”; Case Marker: suffix for path
-nal Case Marker: suffix for manner
-nan a morpheme meaning “by means of”; it indicates what is used to do something; “Bíi ril sháad le buzhedi mazhenan wa.” (“I’m going to the con by car.”); Case Marker: suffix for instrument
-sha Case Marker: suffix for place (see also ‘-ha’)
-th a morpheme that means “This is the direct object in this sentence.”; Bíi ril thi Athid imedimeth wa. (“Athid has a suitcase.”); Case Marker: suffix for object
-tha Case Marker: suffix for possession – by reason of birth (see also ‘-thi’, ‘-the’, ‘-thu’, ‘-tho’)
-the Case Marker: suffix for possession – for unknown or unacknowledged reasons (see also ‘-tha’, ‘-thi’, ‘-thu’, ‘-tho’)
-thi Case Marker: suffix for possession – by reason of chance (see also ‘-tha’, ‘-the’, ‘-thu’, ‘-tho’)
-tho Case Marker: suffix for possession – other (purchase, gift, law, custom, etc.) (see also ‘-tha’, ‘-the’, ‘-thi’, ‘-thu’)
-thu Case Marker: suffix for possession – partitive (false possessive) (see also ‘-thi’, ‘-the’, ‘-thu’, ‘-tha’)
-wáan a morpheme meaning “the reason for which something is done”; Case Marker: suffix for cause – reason, due to, because of (see also ‘-wan’)
-wan Case Marker: suffix for cause – for the purpose of, in order to (see also ‘-wáan’)
-ya Case Marker: suffix for Time
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