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Syntactic and semantic analysis of the non-prepositional instrumental case in the Croatian language


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Brač, Ivana. (2017). Syntactic and semantic analysis of the non-prepositional instrumental case in the Croatian language. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Linguistics.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij lingvistike) [mentor Birtić, Matea and Petrović, Bernardina].

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This doctoral thesis analyses the syntactic and semantic characteristics of the nonpropositional instrumental case in Croatian, a topic that has been poorly investigated in the Croatian linguistic literature. The instrumental case is considered the case with the most different meanings and syntactic functions, which led Potebnja (1888) to the conclusion that we actually use the term ‘instrumental’ for many different cases. The first part of the thesis is an overview of research concerning the instrumental case, with a focus on research on the instrumental case in the Russian language, a subject that has been the focus of many Slavic, European, and American linguists. Many linguists discern between atomistic and holistic approaches to the cases. More precisely, the atomistic approach describes all meanings of a case without finding a connection between them (Potebnja 1888, Mrázek 1964), while the holistic approach is oriented towards finding the prototypical meaning of a case (Hjelmslev 1935, Jakobson 1936, 1958, Wierzbicka 1980, Janda 1993, etc). This thesis rejects the division into atomistic and holistic analyses of cases. The reasoning for this stems from fact that e.g. Mrázek (1964), an atomist, connects the meanings of the instrumental, while Wierzbicka (1980) lists as many meanings as the “atomists” do, sometimes without a clear connection between them. Instead, we have decided to distinguish between the semantic and syntactic approaches to the instrumental. The sematic approach is based on the meanings of the instrumental case and the syntactic is concerned with structures in which the instrumental case occurs and the possibility of replacing the instrumental with other cases and constructions. This division is also not entirely justified, because neither approach completely ignores syntax or semantics. These approaches belong to different theoretical frameworks, but this thesis takes into account assumptions from both approaches that provide the best solution to a particular problem. The goal of this research is the systematical and thorough description of the syntactic functions of the non-prepositional instrumental case in the Croatian language, e.g. the structures in which it occurs and the possibility of replacing it with other cases and constructions. The meanings of the non-prepositional instrumental are described and connected with the syntactic level. The research is based on the following hypotheses: a) the meanings of the instrumental case can be interconnected; c) the selection of instrumental complements is closely linked to verb meaning, and the verb can be recognized from the meaning of the instrumental complement; a) the instrumental in the Croatian language has characteristics that distinguish it from the instrumental in the other Slavic languages; b) depending on the structure in which it occurs, the instrumental can be considered a structural, lexical, and semantic case. This research is based on a list of the verbs and their complements developed at the Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics. The list has been revised in a manner that verbs not attested in the corpora are excluded, as were verbs without an instrumental complement. Each verb is associated with an example from the Croatian Web Corpus, the Croatian Language Corpus, and/or the Croatian National Corpus. Verbs are divided into 5 groups according to their valence pattern and 25 groups according to their meaning. The advantage of this method is that the research is based on actual data and examples from everyday communication. Besides of the method of corpus linguistics, this research uses the method of testing native speakers’ linguistic intuition. The survey included 106 respondents who supplemented the results in order to provide a picture of how often they use the instrumental with copula and semicopulative verbs. They were asked if there is a semantic difference between sentences with the nominative and the instrumental case in given copulative sentences. Also, this method tests the hypothesis that a verb can be recognized from the meaning of an instrumental noun phrase. The contrastive method is also present, since many assumptions made for the Russian language are often the starting point in analysis, and differences between the instrumental in Russian and Croatian are observed. Based on the relevant literature and the verb list, a new classification of the meanings of the instrumental case is proposed, including the following categories: the instrumental of means, the instrumental of theme, the instrumental of identification and attribution, the instrumental of effector, the instrumental of space, the instrumental of time, and the instrumental of manner. Relevant syntactic tests and semantic criteria for distinguishing an instrumental noun phrase as a complement or an adjunct are proposed and analysed, which can be useful in descriptions of verb valency. The instrumental of theme and the instrumental of identification and attribution, e.g. the predicate instrumental, are defined as obligatory complements; space, time, and manner are defined as adjuncts, and effector is described as a facultative complement. The semantic difference between intermediary instrument and facilitating instrument is analysed based on the causative relationship between agent and instrument, as well as its syntactic consequences. The intermediary instrument is defined as a facultative complement, and the facilitating instrument is defined as an adjunct. The hypothesis that governed instrumental case is not completely unpredictable, but it depends on a verb’s lexical aspect is revised, e.g. the accusative occurs with telic verbs and the instrumental with atelic verbs. Differences between Russian and Croatian instrumental predicates and secondary predicates are emphasized, as are differences between the instrumental in passive constructions in both languages. The instrumental is defined as a lexical, syntactic, and semantic case based on the structure in which it occurs. The results of the research contribute to the thorough description of the non-prepositional case, stronger correlation between the syntactic and semantic levels, and to the description of verb valency. A verb list with examples from corpora can be used in preparing materials for teaching the instrumental case in courses of Croatian as a second and foreign language. The research is also a good starting point for research into other cases and contrastive analyses.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: instrumental, syntax, semantics, complement, adjunct, secondary predicate
Subjects: Slavic languages and literatures > Croatian language and literature
Departments: Department of Linguistics
Supervisor: Birtić, Matea and Petrović, Bernardina
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij lingvistike
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2017 12:08
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2017 12:08

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