2

Basic questions:

Do we know of any property of a gerund or infinitive which prevents it being treated totally like a type of noun?

Do we know any language which expresses gerunds or infinitives as a noun case?

Background:

I combine noun particles to mark noun properties like declension, plurality, etc.

Examples with accusative particle 'ya,' then with three noun particles:

Na caye ya mwaecolo.

2PS.FUT change ACC everything.

You will change everything.

Na caye yaliaŋc omahál.

2PS.FUT change ACC.DEM1.PL dress.

You will change these dresses.

I have been making verbs into certain non-finite verbs in the same way.

Na hel óya caye.

2PS.FUT avoid GER/INF.ACC change.

You will avoid changing.

For years I have just had it sitting to the side, the only noun particle with nothing else in its category.

It just occurred to me I could treat this infinitive/gerund particle ó as another noun case. As above, it already indicates a type of object for use with some verbs. It can be compatible with other noun particles (e.g., this swimming, many changings, neither swimming nor running...). I could give it some pronouns (like my other cases have) for where the antecedent is an action (e.g., He did so). It would be an unusual case insofar as it can also combine with other cases (It's safe from running.)

Presently I haven't found a sentence where treating gerund-ness as a noun case messes things up. I could use help thinking of a test situation for this.

1
  • Based on Draconis' input, this idea might appeal more to someone in whose language ALL nouns are also verbs.
    – Vir
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 22:40

1 Answer 1

4

You'd want to think about constructions like "a talent for swimming" or "the art of cooking", but if it can combine with other "cases", this isn't an issue.

My question for you is: why call it a "case" at all? The word "case" is usually used for a marking that can be applied to any noun to indicate its relationship to other words in the sentence. And this doesn't seem like a marking you can put on any noun: you can't put it on nouns at all, only on verbs.

So I'd probably call it a particle that turns a verb into a noun (gerund or infinitive or whatever you want to call it) and leave "case" for the exclusive markings. But the definitions of these terms aren't set in stone, and it certainly wouldn't be the weirdest use of "case" out there.

For a real-world example, Swahili has a single category of marking on nouns that encodes number, gender, and certain semantic roles (like "this is where the action is happening"). This is the category that triggers agreement on verbs and adjectives, and can be used to distinguish pronouns; since it covers semantics that would be marked by case in other languages, it's not unreasonable to consider this a "case" marking, in the sense used in your question. And there's a special one of these markings for infinitives (number 15).

1
  • "only on verbs": This is an especially relevant point. Most of my words can be nouns or verbs. But now that you mention I do have some just-nouns. All the other cases would work with those, but not this one. So sitting in a category by itself is more apt. Thank you for your insight! This was a blindspot for my testing because naturally all the non-finite verb test sentences I would think of would use n/v words. I'll check out Swahili marking, too.
    – Vir
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 22:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.