I am developing conlang that has grammatical cases system for nominals that for each spatial case there is state-based case.

In Finnic languages grammatical cases that denote states occur, examples in Finnish:

  • Essive (ESS) with the ending -na/-nä denotes being in state, corresponds to the combination 'as X' in English. lapsi - 'child', lapsena - 'as child / being a child'
  • dialectal Exessive (EXESS) with the ending -nta/-ntä denotes a departure from state, corresponding to English 'from being X...'. lapsi - 'child', lapsenta - 'from being child'
  • Translative (TRANSL) with the ending -ksi denotes a transition into state, corresponds to English 'to (becoming) X'. aikuinen - 'adult', aikuiseksi - 'to adult'. lapsenta aikuiseksi = '[maturing] from child to adult'.

There is clear spatial analogy:

  • Locative ↔ Essive
  • Ablative ↔ Exessive
  • Allative ↔ Translative

You can construct state-based analogues to other spatial cases. For example, for the Prolative case ('through X') we can make Essive-Prolative, which would mean 'passing through a state of being X / through way of being X"

There is a Hungarian grammatical case called Distributive (DISTR) with the ending -nként, which is equivalent to 'per X'. For example, hét - 'week', hetenként - 'weekly, once per week'. It has a clear spatial-temporal nature.

I am trying to come up with a state based analogue for this case. Let's call it 'Essive-distributive', but I am stuck with the expansion of the analogy. What exactly can 'per being in state' mean? Can anyone suggest a meaning and usage for such a case?

  • 2
    “each time you are asleep”, “each time Misha is on duty” could be examples. Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 6:11

3 Answers 3


Interesting concept for a case. In my interpretation this kind of an abstract distributive case would apply in sentences like this one (a probably very clumsy reformulation of a famous first sentence in literature)

Every unhappy family is different in their unhappiness.

I looked up the really case-rich conlang Ithkuil and did not find a precedent for this kind of case. Feel free to name it by any name you like. When you don't have an own idea, I suggest respective case for that one.


I suspect you could just make up a name. That's certainly a legitimate glossopoetical strategy.

In English, i'd just call it a distributive sense of the state-noun and have done with it: Such-and-such only happens thrice per childhood, you know!

Or ...thrice childhoodly if you prefer!

I frankly don't get the difference between LOC/ABL/ALL & ESS/EXESS/TRANSL, which I'm guessing must be a Finnish Thing.

I would understand "in the child" and "in childhood" to be locative senses of the thing-noun and state-noun respectively; "from the child" & "from childhood" likewise are ablative. So it is for "per child" and "per childhood", being the distributive sense.


If I understand you correctly (big if there!), you are looking for a periodical state that repeats, not necessarily at the same time interval (though the two might in reality be linked) — as it happens we are using the sun rising as a proxy for the time passing.

This could be a tree blossoming, or losing its leaves. It could be the tide coming in. It could be birds migrating and passing through. It could be a woman's menstrual cycle. It could be being asleep/awake.

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