How necessary are noun cases?

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Creyeditor
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Re: How necessary are noun cases?

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Salmoneus wrote: 05 Oct 2020 15:38 I might put it the other way around: the idea of fixed word order is too simplistic. I think there are languages with free or virtually free word order (at least once 'word' has been adequately defined for the purpose). [...]
I agree that languages that have been described as having a fixed word order often have a surprising amount of word order alternations. Standard Indonesian (no case markimg btw) has been described as having a rigidly fixed word order, but actual speaker front topics, etc.
I don't think there is a language with truly free word order in the sense that all word order is optionally variable independently of semantic, pragmatic and lexical context. But maybe there is, who knows.
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Re: How necessary are noun cases?

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Creyeditor wrote: 05 Oct 2020 17:51 I agree that languages that have been described as having a fixed word order often have a surprising amount of word order alternations. Standard Indonesian (no case markimg btw) has been described as having a rigidly fixed word order, but actual speaker front topics, etc.
I don't think there is a language with truly free word order in the sense that all word order is optionally variable independently of semantic, pragmatic and lexical context. But maybe there is, who knows.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7029&p=292827&hilit=FWO+SVC#p292827

The Wambaya Australian non-Pama-Nyungan language in the above-linked post is called “Pragmatic Word Order” by the author and her advisor.
It’s in a linguistic area with a lot of pragmatic-word-order languages.

....

I think it was in a WALS.info article? Anyway, somewhere, I read that word-order always means something; whether pragmatic or semantic or syntactic or some combination thereof.
“Free Word Order” just means that an unusually high majority of possible word-orders are grammatical.
In a so-called “FWO” language word-orders don’t carry any syntactic or even much semantic weight.
But they may, and I take it usually do, carry a great deal of “pragmatic weight”.

Anyway it looks like academics who publish on these language prefer the term “pragmatuc word order” rather than “free word order”.

....

FWO either requires an awful lot of head-marking or an awful lot of dependent-marking; one can use WALS to see which languages in their sample have which or how many word-orders and cross-correlate that with which and how many of them have what kind of marking; head-marking or dependent-marking or double-marking or no marking.
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Re: How necessary are noun cases?

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https://wals.info/combinations/23A_81A#2/39.1/153.3
shows
14 of the “no dominant order” languages are double-marking
11 of the “no dominant order” languages are head-marking
7 of the “no dominant order” languages are dependent-marking
1 of the “no dominant order” languages has other marking.

4 of the “no dominant order” languages have no marking


That makes it appear marking the head is more important for freeing up word-order than marking the dependent is.
But although 25 of the 37 NDO languages in this list do mark the head, still 21 of them do mark the dependent.
So to free up word-order it’s important the language mark something. That’s a bigger deal than it is to mark the head.

.....

Of course case-marking is a kind of dependent-marking.

https://wals.info/combinations/49A_81A#2/80.2/141.7
Shows
11 NDO languages without cases
5 NDO languages with “exclusively borderline case-marking”, whatever the heck that means
1 NDO language with 2 cases
3 NDO languages with 3 cases
2 NDO languages with 4 cases
2 NDO languages with 5 cases
4 NDO languages with 6 or 7 cases
3 NDO languages (including Wambaya) with 8 or 9 cases
6 NDO languages with 10 or more cases

So of the 36 NDO languages here, 16 have no cases or “exclusively borderline case”, while the other 20 have cases.
Among the 20 that have cases, the median number of cases is about 6 or 7, I guess.
This is not sufficient data from which to draw a conclusion. I, or we, would also have to see whether knowing the number of cases helps us predict the word-order; or, at least, whether the presence of cases (or of more than three cases) helps us predict whether there is or isn’t a dominant order.
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Re: How necessary are noun cases?

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according to WALS, 100 out of 261(38.3%) languages don't have noun cases, that is, nearly 2 out of every 5 languages don't have noun cases:

https://wals.info/chapter/49

also 98 out of 190(51.6%) languages have a neutral alignment on nouns, that is, more than half of all languages distinguish the subject from the direct object by the word order, or by the combination of the word order and the use of corresponding verbal agreements:

https://wals.info/chapter/98

Besides, the function of the distinction between location and destination can be achieved by combining adpositions i.e. English into, onto, etc., so yeah it is not that necessary to have them, and it is actually not uncommon for natural languages to not have them at all.

Some might think that it is because they have SVO as the basic word order, but considering the fact that some SVO languages still have nominal cases(like Slavic languages), and the percentage of languages without nominal cases around the world, I think this is not the reason.

But on the other hand, nominal cases can be useful, and you can take a look at what others have said above, but in my opinion, nominal cases simply are not a necessity.
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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Re: How necessary are noun cases?

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k1234567890y wrote: 09 Oct 2020 16:47 ....
But on the other hand, nominal cases can be useful, and you can take a look at what others have said above, but in my opinion, nominal cases simply are not a necessity.
To sum up.

Many features that are frequently quite useful are also frequently not strictly necessary, and occasionally deuced inconvenient.
In natural languages, a feature is retained if the frequency and degree of its usefulness overwhelms the frequency and degree of its peskiness, in that specific language.
That includes case and gender and agreement and obviation and numbers other than singular and plural and lots of other things.

For instance if a language doesn’t have hierarchical MorphoSyntactic alignment it probably has no use for direct-vs-indirect voice.
If a language doesn’t have embedded clauses it probably has no use for long-distance reflexives and reduced use for logophoric pronouns.
And so on.

.....

Is that about it?
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Re: How necessary are noun cases?

Post by k1234567890y »

eldin raigmore wrote: 09 Oct 2020 17:58
k1234567890y wrote: 09 Oct 2020 16:47 ....
But on the other hand, nominal cases can be useful, and you can take a look at what others have said above, but in my opinion, nominal cases simply are not a necessity.
To sum up.

Many features that are frequently quite useful are also frequently not strictly necessary, and occasionally deuced inconvenient.
In natural languages, a feature is retained if the frequency and degree of its usefulness overwhelms the frequency and degree of its peskiness, in that specific language.
That includes case and gender and agreement and obviation and numbers other than singular and plural and lots of other things.

For instance if a language doesn’t have hierarchical MorphoSyntactic alignment it probably has no use for direct-vs-indirect voice.
If a language doesn’t have embedded clauses it probably has no use for long-distance reflexives and reduced use for logophoric pronouns.
And so on.

.....

Is that about it?
yeah more or less
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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