, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 545–572

The redevelopment of Indo-Aryan case systems from a lexical semantic perspective

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11525-010-9175-0

Cite this article as:
Butt, M. & Ahmed, T. Morphology (2011) 21: 545. doi:10.1007/s11525-010-9175-0


The original case system found in Sanskrit (Old Indo-Aryan) was lost in Middle Indo-Aryan and then reinvented in most of the modern New Indo-Aryan (NIA) languages. This paper suggests that: (1) a large factor in the redevelopment of the NIA case systems is the expression of systematic semantic contrasts; (2) the precise distribution of the newly innovated case markers can only be understood by taking their original spatial semantics into account and how this originally spatial semantics came to be used primarily for marking the core participants of a sentence (e.g., agents, patients, experiencers, recipients). Furthermore, given that case markers were not innovated all at once, but successively, we suggest a model in which already existing case markers block or compete with newer ones, thus giving rise to differing particular instantiations of one and the same originally spatial postposition across closely related languages.


Case Indo-Aryan Diachrony Semantic factors 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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