Cases and Prepositions
c stirling bartholomew
cc.constantine at worldnet.att.net
Sun Jul 22 13:25:54 EDT 2001
It has been pointed out recently, that at some point in the pre-history of
Greek or perhaps a proto-indoeuropean language the cases were separate from
the nouns and functioned like prepositions. This has been used as an
argument for seeing a preservation of the semantic significance of the
"preposition" after it has become attached to the noun as a case form.
This argument sounds very much like an etymological fallacy. The semantic
significance of the case form in a proto-indoeuropean language when it was
a detached word (preposition or postposition) can hardly be used as the
basis for understanding the cases in Hellenistic Greek. The Hellenistic
Greek case has reached an advanced state of vagueness. Some people refer to
this as the case meaning being "washed out."
IMHO, this issue is at the root of the disagreements about how the case
system should be represented.. Those from the historical school want to hang
on to some residual semantic "presence" in the case form. They are the
authors of the traditional grammars.
Others who have been influenced by post-Saussurian language models tend to
view with suspicion attempts to preserve residual semantic "presence" in the
This is a conflict of language models and this sort of conflict does not go
away since language models tend to be rather stable over time for any given
student of the Greek language.
Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062
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