Talk:Subjective case

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Subjective vs. nominative[edit]

I always thought the reason that they keep subjective and nominative distinct was because the English "nominative" acts differently from the general nominative; this is visible in examples such as "Who wants some cake?" "Me!". If English had a pure nominative, that answer would be "I". However, in English, it shows up as "me" because that generally ends up as the default when the pronoun is not used as the subject of an actual stated sentence ("I do", in this case). I would think this alone would make it important to distinguish between nominative and subjective. -Branddobbe

Actually, my impression is that it's simply a matter of convention. "Nominative" is traditionally used for languages which have true cases (unlike English), while "subjective" is used for languages like English and the Romance languages, where case has become vestigial, and appears only in a small number of function words, such as pronouns.

The subjective case is the term preferred by English grammarians for the nominative case.

If this is true, then perhaps this article should be merged with Nominative case. But it needs to be checked first. FilipeS 12:45, 13 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Datapoint: a 1910 (?) book called 'How to speak and write correctly' by one Joseph Devlin claims: "There are three cases, the _Nominative_, the _Possessive_ and the _Objective_." Njál 23:20, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

General nominative does not really exist, each language has its own conventions on when the nominative should be used. Compare the following phrases, both meaning 'I am twenty years old.'

German: Ich bin zwanzig Jahre alt.

Russian: Мне двадцать лет.

In the German example, 'Ich' (meaning 'I') is in its nominative form, in the Russian example, 'Мне' is the dative form of 'Я' (meaning 'I')

In English, the default case is the accusative (or objective or oblique, depending on the terminology you use,) proving your example; "Who wants some cake?" "Me!". The nominative is only used when it is the subject of a verb, which is why it is sometimes called the subjective for English. Subjective is always nominative, but nominative is not always (in fact rarely,) subjective, which is why the articles should not be merged in my opinion. Subjective is a term that is used so that the English nominative is not presumed to be used in the same way as it is in other languages, but in reality it is still the nominative, whatever the rules or conventions for its use are. Tezp 13:39, 24 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dative Case?[edit]

The article reads, "the accusative and dative are collectively labelled as the objective case." I agree with the terminology, however, is there such a thing as the dative case in English to be relabelled in the first place? The only example I can think of is "to whom it may concern," (where whom could be argued to be in the dative case,) which is an idiomatic phrase with a specific useage, and I would argue not an inflected form of 'who,' merely an archaic form retained within this phrase. Do you agree that it would be better to have it read, "the accusative is labelled as the objective case"? Tezp 13:22, 24 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Anglo-Saxon had distinct dative and accusative cases. In Modern English these have merged — the objective pronouns are used for both — with what used to be the dative-accusative distinction now being maintained by prepositions (to and for mostly) or by word order (the indirect object, ex dative, precedes the direct object, ex accusative). See Dative shift. —RuakhTALK 17:00, 24 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I understand that, however, in the article, it states that alternative terminology for the accusative and dative is objective. If the term dative is not used to describe modern English in the first place, how can it be relabelled? I know it's only a minor point, but I just feel that if we are going to call something dative because it would be dative if we had a distinct dative case, we might as well say that in the following example, 'me' is in the locative case (which just happens to have the same form as the objective,) because if we had a locative, this is where we would use it:

a) The ball landed by me

Do you agree, Ruakh? Maybe I am just being a bit picky? I'm interested to know your thoughts.Tezp 11:05, 25 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't see why you're fine with "accusative" and not with "dative". Would you argue that in "I gave him the ball", both him and the ball are "accusative", hence "objective"? Why not argue that they're both "dative", hence "objective"?
The fact is, people do use the term "dative" to refer to indirect objects. I'm not sure whether this is due to their history (Modern English indirect objects descend from Anglo-Saxon dative-case objects) or due to analogy with Latin, Greek, German, Russian, etc.
RuakhTALK 22:34, 25 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think my problem here is that people use the term dative for English indirect objects, when in fact there is no reason to do so. The distinction is in the function i.e. direct vs indirect object, and not in the form i.e. case, which I suppose only goes to show the usefulness of subjective vs objective, but I was always taught at University not to use special terms for English, as it is just a language like any other. We wouldn't create specific terms for another language because its case system is slightly different from 'the norm' (whatever that is!) In any case, I suppose you are right in the fact that if people use the term dative, it should be explained how it is relabelled in alternative terminology. Tezp 10:21, 30 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I object to your phrase "the form i.e. case". It's true that when we think of case, we primarily think of morphological case, because that's where it's most salient, but English actually has pretty much the same case distinction, just expressed via word order. This is a simpler system in many ways — not least because languages that do have morphological case usually also have word order restrictions (albeit looser ones) — but it's still a case system. —RuakhTALK 17:24, 30 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I admit that "the form i.e. case" is a bit contrived in this example, but I would still argue that semantic roles being defined by syntactic conventions does not constitute a case system, it raises the question of how do you define which cases are present and which aren't if there are not distict? I suppose it depends on how you look at it. In any case, it's interesting to see it from your point of view. Thanks. Tezp 09:05, 31 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Merge to Nominative case[edit]

Since this article has been tagged since February 2007 and no discussion was in progress, I've been bold and merged this article into Nominative case. alex.muller (talkedits) 17:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]