Now that's a question.spanick wrote: ↑22 Sep 2019 17:56When starting with a proto language, how do you typically go about developing case marking? Most cases seem pretty intuitive to me when derived from prepositions but there’s a few I’m not sure about, specifically Nominative, Accusative, Ergative, and Absolutive.
To be clear, I know that I may not need to make some of those, but languages like Latin do have nominative case marking, so I’m just curious about how that comes to be. Those four cases are also just the ones I’m curious about, I don’t necessarily intend to have all four in one language.
I really don’t ever make proto languages from which to derive more naturalistic conlangs, but I’m giving it a go. So, for those of you that do, how do you do it? Do you derive case markers or do you just randomly assign them in the proto lang?
On the one hand, you could just hand-wave it and say that the nominative, accusative, etc. were present in the proto-language. This is the case in Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Semitic, Proto-Uralic, I think (the locative cases in Finnish, from what I can remember are built on older locative cases in a similar manner to that seen in Tsez, but the syntactic cases come straight from Proto-Uralic), and it seems to be the case in Proto-Turkic as well (I was hoping the definite accusative case in Turkish was an innovation, but it seems to be inherited).
I tried to see if there was any thought on where, for example, the PIE nominative *-s and accusative *-m came from, but beyond "*-s might have originally have been an ergative or agentive case", it's mostly just taken as "original", i.e. it's been there so long no-one can see where it came from.
I do this with my proto-languages. Proto-Sirdic's cases are just... there, as are the cases in Proto-Skawlas.
As to where they could come from... hmmm... I think I've seen a suggestion that nominative/agentive cases could come from an older vocative case, or demonstratives, the emphasis of "it is this X that does Y" indicating agency, and then its use becomes more and more frequent. I seem to recall an idea that the nominative case might also come from deverbal nominalisers (eventually the suffix is taken to be separate from the noun, and dropped when the noun is further declined).
The accusative could come from an older dative, especially in a language that previously had secundative alignment (the recipient of a ditransitive verb is marked in the same way as the patient of a transitive verbs, as opposed to indirective languages where the patient and the theme are marked in the same way, with a distinct case for the recipient).