Classical Languages - Study Group

An area with study groups for various languages. Group members help each other, share resources and experience. Study groups are permanent but the members rotate and change.
PfifltriggPi
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby PfifltriggPi » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:30 am

"Scientia per omnia aspera" quoque vadit bene, puto.
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Please correct my errors in any tongue.

"Зброя - слово." - Леся Українка

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Ser
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=13579
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby Ser » Sat Mar 07, 2020 7:10 pm

Some random thing about the origin of the term "case"...

"Case" comes from Latin cāsus 'a falling', so how come that term was chosen to talk about the inflection of nouns, adjectives, participles and pronouns?

As early as Dionysius Thrax's grammar in the 2nd century BC, cases were talked about in terms of a metaphor of the equilibrium of an object.

The nominative (ὁ ὀνομαστική 'the one related to naming', from ὀνομάζω 'to name sth') was first placed at a 90-degree angle, due to being the most prominent case, as it was what came out when saying the name of an object. The metaphor was to place it in the balanced position of equilibrium, the normal way for things to rest, at 90 degrees. Then the other cases were thought of as changes to the equilibrium, so they were considered "fallings" of the resting object. That is, the "fallings" were what happened when the noun at rest was tipped over.

Because the nominative was at that angle, it was also called the "right" case (ὁ ὀρθός 'the straight/correct/right-angled one', or ἡ εὐθεῖα 'the straight line'), and it was opposed to the other cases which were called the "oblique" ones (αἱ πτώσεις πλάγιαι 'the slanting/oblique-angled fallings').

Over time, the term "falling" (πτῶσις) was also applied to the nominative case as well, so they all became "fallings". These terms were then carried over to Latin, where nōminātīvus 'the one related to naming' (from nōmināre 'to name sth') was used to calque ὀνομαστική, rēctus 'straight' to calque ὀρθός and ἡ εὐθεῖα, and cāsūs oblīquī 'slanting fallings' was used to calque πτώσεις πλάγιαι.

This then produces the familiar Indo-European terminology where the nominative is referred to as the direct case (perhaps along with the vocative), while the other cases (genitive, dative, accusative, plus the ablative or locative if they're different) are grouped together as "the oblique cases".

I don't know why the Latin phrase cāsus rēctus is usually translated as "the direct case" in English (as opposed to "the right case"), but I suspect it may be an influence of the phrase "direct object", besides, perhaps, some confusion with the actual meanings of dīrēctus. I also find it interesting that in French scholarship on Old French and Old Occitan, the direct case and oblique case of those two languages are traditionally called cas sujet 'case of the subject' and cas régime 'case of what is ruled', even though French linguistics does use the terms cas direct and cas oblique elsewhere (say, when talking about general Indo-European).
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gsbod
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby gsbod » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:10 pm

Ser wrote:"Case" comes from Latin cāsus 'a falling', so how come that term was chosen to talk about the inflection of nouns, adjectives, participles and pronouns?


Interesting. Is this why in German, Fall also means 'case'?
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Ser
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Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Languages: Spanish (N), English (feels like another mother tongue but it's not), French (intermediate), Latin/Ancient Greek/Mandarin (still sucking at them)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=13579
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby Ser » Sat Mar 07, 2020 11:04 pm

gsbod wrote:Interesting. Is this why in German, Fall also means 'case'?

Yes, German uses a calque of Latin cāsus here. :)
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vonPeterhof
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Re: Classical Languages - Study Group

Postby vonPeterhof » Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:13 am

Most Slavic languages also use calques of "casus". A few use "sklon", which can mean "slope" or "incline" and thus referencing the process of declination.
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