By Frans Plank (ed.)
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Extra info for Paradigms: The Economy of Inflection
21. A more apposite motivation is provided by Brendal's (1943: 107) 'principe de compensation'. 22. See, for instance, M011er (1937), Georgiev (1973), Boeder (1976), O'Neil (1978), Mignot (1978), treating of various Indo-European languages. 23. The traditional order in which categories are named, on the other hand, has Cases first and Numbers second; thus: Nominative Singular rather than Singular Nominative. This actually specifies a more efficient selection procedure: If I were to select all Singular forms of, say, manus first, I would get six forms from which then to select the Nominative form.
The Latin nouns of Table 3 would seem to confirm this prediction, showing eleven instances of Nominative coinciding with Accusative (mostly, however, in Neuters) but only three of a non-distinct Genitive. Of all three Persons of German verbs it is the 3rd where Number distinction is most important in a similar sense: finite verbs are obligatorily accompanied by subject noun phrases which themselves usually distinguish Number, except when consisting 22 brans Plank Table 6. Plural inflection of definite article and nouns in German (partial) Nom Sg PI d-er d-ie Letter -0 Leitet 0 Ace d-en d-ie Leitet 0 Leitet •0 Gen d-es d-er Lei ter- s Leiter -0 d-es d-er Messer-s Messer-0 'the leader' (Masc) Sg PI d-as d-ie Messer Messer d-as d-ie Messern 0 Messe A-0 'the knife' (Neut) Sg PI Leiter-0 Leiter-n Leiter-0 Leiter-n Leiter-0 Leiter-n 'the ladder' (Fern) of the 3rd Person pronoun sie, which may be Singular Feminine or Plural.
Formal cases I believe that inconsistencies of the kinds noted above stem from the failure to recognise that delimiting cases involves two major sets of criteria, and that these two sets of criteria do not always give the same set of results. On the one hand, in speaking of cases one is concerned with the formal oppositions that are made in the language in question. One can thus set up a set of formal cases for a particular nominal in a particular language. There is no a priori reason why the set of formal cases set up for one particular nominal in a given language should be the same as that set up for every other nominal, and especially in languages with reasonably rich or complex morphology, Form and function in identifying cases 43 discrepancies abound, as discussed above: the single Latin form helium (traditionally, Nominative-Vocative-Accusative of'war') corresponds functionally to the three distinct forms Nominative dominus, Vocative domine, Accusative aominum of the word for 'master'; while both T and 'man' in Dyirbal show a two-way opposition, between ngaja and ngayguna, betweenyara and yaranggu, there is no one-one functional correspondence between the individual forms: while ngayguna always corresponds to yara, yara sometimes corresponds to ngaja; whileyaranggu always corresponds to ngaja, ngaja sometimes corresponds ioyara.