8-, 5-case system

>On Mon, 24 Oct 1994 Dvdmoore@aol.com wrote:

>>  *Second*, the paradigm shift of the early part of this century (?) from
>> eight-case system to the five-case system was a shift from function
>> (functionally there are about eight cases) to form.  With what Porter and
>> Fanning are proposing the pendulum of change seems to be swinging back
>> from form to the function end of the spectrum.  With Porter's wanting to
>> jettison all grammatization of time reference, I wonder if he's not
>> that the pendulum swing back too far.  

pgraber@emoryu1.cc.emory.edu (Philip L. Graber) began his response:

>I'm not so sure about this. The eight-case system was not so much based on
>function as it was on imposing the form of another language on Greek (and
>English, etc.) even though those languages do NOT formally have eight
>cases (it must be demonstrated that they really have eight FUNCTIONALLY). 

     It is surprising to me that there would be any real question on this
matter, especially since I said, functionally there are *about* eight cases,
which should give a little leeway.  But since there is a question about it,
we should see if the _function_ of the locative and insturmental cases may be
discerned under the dative form, and if there is an ablative function of the

     Robertson's plea for eight cases - if one counts the vocative - was
based on arguments from comparative Philology (including other languages
besides Latin) and on reconstructions from then current history of the Greek
language (Rbrtsn. 246-50).  This system was not to prevail, however.  Blass's
excellent grammar had already been published before Robertson's appeared, and
Moulton had also produced the first volume of the four that bear his name.
 Since these two works, in effect, superceded Robertson's even before its
publication, it is not surprising that the five-case system Blass and Moulton
both employed should also supercede the eight- (or more) case systems of
Robertson and earlier grammarians.

    This change, amounting to a paradigm shift, was justified on the basis
that the locative, instrumental and ablative have no distinctive grammatical
forms (Moulton, _Proleg._, 60-1, 72).  But, ironically, this movement from
function to form never was able to make a clean break with the old way of
understanding the Greek noun.  So we find Blass speaking of the instrumental
sense of the dative (Bl-DeBr. #195), or the locative dative (Bl-DeBr. #199).
 In Moulton's grammar, also, (The syntax volume is written by Nigel Turner.)
the instrumental and locative functions of the dative are clearly spelled out
(Moulton III:240, 242-3).  In order to subsume these grammatical functions
under the "dative" heading, the traditional meaning of "dative" had to be
considerably amplified.  As an illustration of this, we find Blass referring
to "The Dative Proper: Designating the More Remotely Concerned Person"
(Bl-DeBr. #187) which, by the way, is the traditional meaning of "dative."

     The ablative might be more difficult to establish as a distinct
function.  Blass does not treat it seperately (Bl-DeBr. p. 265), but Turner
does (Moulton III:235f.).  The latter anounces that the functions of the
"ablatival genitive" have mainly been taken over by prepositions such as APO
and EK (Moulton III:235).  This point of view, which Blass also puts forward
in speaking of "the partitive genitive" (Bl-DeBr #164) also inclines toward
the idea of form over function (i.e. that the preposition takes over the
function of the case of the noun).  Robertson, on the other hand, takes these
prepositions as indicators of the noun's being in the ablative case (Rbrtsn

     To sum up, the functions of the ablative, the instrumental, and the
dative continue even when we classify them within a five-case system.  The
ablative seems to be fairly easily subsumed under the genitive, but the
instrumental and the locative do not rest so easily under the heading of
"dative."  Their functions obviously call for special treatment within the
dative case, and, in the final analysis, it seems safe to say that they fit
into the dative only because the term "dative," in terms of Greek grammatical
taxonomy, has been amplified to include them.

    Let me make clear that I am not arguing for a return to the eight-case
system.  I'm willing to speak the language everyone understands.  But if I
smile whenever I hear someone refer to the "insturmental use of the dative"
or the "dative of location,"  bear with me, will you.

David L. Moore