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Comparative Grammar 比較文法: 與其他語言對比

Case, Number, Gender

English
Greek
Latin
German
French
Hebrew
Spanish
Others

English

Case:

The Form of case is usual only in the genitive. For example, the apostle's brother ('s) is the genitive form.

The functions of case are nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative.

Number:

Singular: heart, church, child, I
Plural: hearts, churches, children, We

 

 

Gender: There are four genders:

  1. masculine (to denote males)
  2. feminine (to denote females)
  3. neuter (to denote things)
  4. common (for words which can denote either males or females, e.g. 'child').
  5.  

Greek

Reference: Wenham, The Elements of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: CUP, 1984).
Robertson, A.T. A Grammar of The Greek New Testament in the Lihgt of Hitorical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934).

 

There are 5 forms of Case in Greek; but upto 8 functions. Previously, the grammarians treated Greek with 8 cases, but nowadays, they usually use 5 cases to describe the cases. In fact, there are only five forms of case in Greek.

Masculine nouns

Case
Meaning
Singular
Plural

Nominative :

Vocative:

Accusative:

Genitive:

Dative:

Subject - The God

------------

Direct Object - The God

possessive - of the God

indirect Object - to/for the God

o(

--------------

t+on

t+ou

t+w(i)

oi(

--------

t+ouV

t+wn

t+oiV

The Ablative case is in the same form of Genitive, but its basic meaing is related to source.

The Locative and Instrumental case are in the same form of Dative, but their basic meanings are time-space related and instruments respectively.

Latin

Reference: Smith, F. Kinchin. Teach Yourself Latin (London: English Universities Press, 1962).

First Declesion (All are Feminine nouns, except Nauta, a sailor)

Case
Meaning
Singular
Plural

Nominative & Vocative:

Accusative:

Genitive:

Dative:

Ablative:

Subject - an (the) island

Direct Object - an (the) island

possessive - of an (the) island

indirect Object - to/for an (the) island

by, with, from, in an (the) island

Insul -a (all are feminine)

Insul -am

Insul -ae

Insul -ae

Insul -a (long a)

Insul -ae

Insul -as (long a)

Insul -arum (long a)

Insul -is (long i)

Insul -is (long i)

Only five forms are found, but the N&V are in the same form, while Ablative has an independant form.

German (Deutsche)

Reference: Gewehr, Wolf and von Schmidt Wolff A. German Review & Readings (New York: Rinehart and Winston, 1973).

In German, there are four cases: nominative, genitive, dative and accusative. The basic meaning is same as that of Greek.

French (Francaise)

Reference: Handbook of French Grammar (in Simplified Chinese)

 

Spanish (Espanol)

Spanish

Hebrew (one of Semitic)

Reference: Seow, C. L. A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (Nashville: Abingdon, 1990).

Scholars have reconstructed that the Proto-Hebrew has inflexional endings (show vowels attached to the end of the nouns) to show the different cases: Nom., Gen., Acc. However, by the end of the second millennium, short vowels were dropped. Thus, there is no formal indication of cases in biblical Hebrew. It can only be determined by context or syntax. (pp.17-18).

Others

Reference: Lord, Robert Comparative Linguistics

Case: (pp.143-145).

As far as Indo-European langugage is concerned, there are several cases always seen. But it is an obsolescent survival, in many languages serving no useful purpose.

Meaning
Examples
Accusative (expressions of time, Motion to), The accusative case can be dispensed with when word-oder is fixed as in English, Frennch and a number of other European languages.
Genitive (possessive) It survives in English but in great versatility.
Dative (indirect object), These two cases are unnecessary luxuries, the sense of which can be indicated by prepositions. E.g. to him, a lui; by air, par avion (English, French respectively).
Instrumental (sometimes beyond instrumentality)
Locative (being at a place): sometimes missing and represented by an oblique case [Grammar. Designating any noun case except the nominative or the vocative. ] other than the genitive. Russian: locative ending is always accompanied by a preposition and is thus redundant.

Number:

  1. Russian: 21, 31 and all other numbers with the last element as unity takes a singular noun!
  2. trousers (always plural); but French, le pantalon (singular).
  3. a pair of sccissors
  4. Hungarian: my eye is weak (szemem gyenge), in stead of "my eyes are weak". When Singularity is needed, they use "half an eye" (fél szemmel).

Gender:

  1. As for Latin, normally a feminine noun has feminine gender, except nauta (sailor) which is feminine number, but in mascular gender.
  2. For German, the gender is not always clear. E.g. das Kind, das Mädchen, das Weib -- neuter gender for animate and even feimine persons.
  3. Besides, the French is also a crazy guess. As I remember, the spoon, fork, knife and dish on the table has different genders!
  4. The Slavic (e.g. Russian) do force us to abandon a sense of order in gender of nouns.
  5. Many languages are interested in neither sex nor in the distinction: animate/inanimate. Dravidian languages distinguish caste; Japanese, various forms of politeness according to rank. The Masai language of East Africa has one gnder for everhing big and strong, and another for everything small and weak.