Date: Thu May 15 1997 - 07:32:38 EDT

i once wrote out what i then thought to be a practicable definition of case for
beginning students and which would also be somewhat technically accurate. i
will look for it. meanwhile, here's a summation of what i kept conveying.

in the ancient and medieval traditions of greek and latin grammar case is a
phenomenon of nouns and participles. in modern times the subcategory adjectival
has been split off from nouns and become adjectives. much more can be said here
about how falling ntwcic = ptosis > casus came to mean what we think of as
case.this ancient system of cases will have been based upon two difference
rationales, the one form and the other function. ancient teachers, to reduce
the disparate elements of form and function to an economical, manageable
package, arbitrarily chose the smallest possible number of functions into which
the forms that might differ from one another would fit. in some of the types
within this system certain case forms may be the same for more than one
function, where in other types they will be the same. since two different
standards of inclusion had been followed, neither will have beenc consistently

therefore, to name a case of a given noun means it's a member of an arbitrarily
systematized set of forms. these forms appear in the rows and columns of sets
called paradigms. some teachers insist that students must repeat some of the
rows because of their having a second or third function, but this process seems
illogical, because still more rows would need to be inserted to cover the
functions that their system omits.

almost all wise instructors see a need to communicate a general understanding
that may be susceptible of many detailed exceptions first and work on details
later. if latin ablatives offer very beginnners an awareness that active
participial ablatives in -i were mostly adjectival and those in -e reserved for
absolutes, the difference in forms would cause beginners to be learning two
different rows of ablatives. if beginners were apprised that locatives often
have the same form as genitive, if singular, or ablative, if plural, then the
difference in function would create another half row under genitive and another
half row under ablative, which would be valid only for this or that specific

as i pointed out before, i think the ancient peripatetics and skeptics shot the
the stoic grammar full of holes, but it has stood the test of pedagogy for more
than two millenia and attempts have been made to apply it to other languages,
over and over again, as when the persecuted nestorians fled to the east where
semitic scholars began to adapt the system to arabic and hebrew, as with saadya
the gaon of pumbedita.

bye, and shalom,
bearded bill of asheville <>
unca not having approved either whom or thereof.

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