I'll raise a wider issue, which many people will have heard me expound upon at LCC6.

The idea of "case" is based on the way that familiar IE languages such as Latin mark the grammatical role of nouns. Applying it to other languages might obscure interesting features of those languages. For example, the question "How many cases does Tsez have?" is not a useful question, because it ignores the interesting way that affixes combine in Daghestanian langauges. Applying that to conlangs, if you're too hung up on IE-style case systems, there are all sorts of things you could be doing with your nouns that you'll never even think of. So rather than ask, "What sort of case system does my language have?", ask yourself "How does my language mark the role of nouns?" and you might get a more interesting answer. 

----Original message----
From : [log in to unmask]
Date : 07/09/2017 - 14:14 (BST)
To : [log in to unmask]
Subject : Re: A Conlang Already Does It, Except Better? Or, English is Weird Again

On 07/09/2017 05:15, Mike S. wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 11:56 AM, And Rosta wrote:
>> On 6 September 2017 at 12:15, Raymond Brown wrote:

>>> What term better describes this allomorphy and, indeed, that of 
>>> modern English personal pronouns, I don't know.   Does one 
>>> exist?
>> I don't know either.

> Even if we were to pinpoint more precisely the present theoretical 
> objection to the term "case" being applied to English, we'd still be 
> left with the fact that English pronouns have traditionally been 
> described in terms of case, the term is universally understood, and 
> there is no obvious substitute term for it.

The problem is that the term is universally understood.  This is why,
when the term is applied to modern English pronouns, we find that they
are "weird".  Just look at Wikipedia:

It's so peppered with exceptions that slavishly sticking to the case
tradition IMHO makes description more complicated.

> IMHO the fact that the "nominative" and "accusative" (a.k.a. 
> "objective")

It was always the "objective" when I was at school in the 1950s because,
as it was held that, it did the job (in theory) of both the direct
object (Latin accusative) and indirect object (Latin dative), e.g.
I saw him.
I gave him a book.

> cases of English pronouns don't work the same way as in Latin or 
> German doesn't mean they're not cases.

Of course not! The cases, e.g. of Classical Arabic or of modern Turkish
do not in all instances work the same way as Latin or German, but they
are, nevertheless, cases as they conform to what is universally
understood by 'case' (see below).

Nor is that what I am arguing nor, if I've understood properly, what And
is arguing.   When I have made comparison with Latin or German it has
been specifically to show that the English allomorphs are _not behaving
as *case* distinctions_.

I'll try to be clear.  What I argue is:
1. 'case' is a distinctive, marked form assumed by a Noun Phrase to
indicate that the NP bears some _identifiable *grammatical* or
*semantic* relation_ to the rest of the sentence.
2. The allomorphs of the modern English personal pronouns do not do
this.  They are conditioned, as And observed, "by various heterogeneous
syntactic conditions -- with these conditions being, in contemporary
English, subject to quite extreme interlectal variation."
3. Therefore, the allomorphs are _not_ cases as the term is universally
understood.  The "weirdness" that Logan referred to in the email that
began this thread is because they are still generally called 'cases'.

On 07/09/2017 06:23, Mike S. wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 7, 2017 at 12:43 AM, A Walker Scott wrote:
>> This time **I'M** going to agree with And as well.

Good. :)

>> What English pronouns do may have been case in the past, but not 
>> today. If English pronouns had case, moving them would NOT allow an
>> "object pronoun" to function as subject. It would simply be 
>> fronting the object for emphasis.


>> But moving them DOES allow an "object pronoun" to function as 
>> subject or a "subject pronoun" to function as the DO of the 
>> sentence. Therefore we aren't dealing with true case anymore. It's 
>> something else.
> As far as I know, and as was implied in the original post, in all
> the major modern contemporary Englishes both formal and colloquial, 
> you're flatly not allowed to put objective-case pronouns in the 
> subject position.

Allowed?  Who by?  We don't have an 'English Academy' (like _l'Académie
française_) nor, as with some language, has the US, UK or, AFAIK, any
other anglophone government sought to control language.  The whole point 
surely is that we're noting what happens as people use the language, 
i.e. we're taking a desriptive not a perscriptive standpoint.

> (An exception is in coordinated phrases, where it's okay to say "Me 
> and her went", which works informally.)

It certainly works colloquially.  Nor, as the Wikipedia article shows,
is the use _me_ as subject confined just to this.  See, e.g. "Who said 
us Yorkshiremen are tight?"

> But examples like Raymond Brown's "Us saw they yesterday" break 
> mainstream norms, at least from my (Northeast American) perspective.

English is spoken more widely than just the US and the UK.  What strikes
me odd in the example I quoted is "they".  The use of "us" as subject
pronoun has and probably still does occur in dialect speech.  We
shouldn't surely as linguists dismiss such things just because they do
happen to "break mainstream norms" in our own neck of the woods.

> What I agree the norm-breaking examples DO show is that when there
> is a conflict then position indeed trumps case in native-speaker 
> intuitions. But I don't agree that these examples show that case is 
> inoperative.  They just show that case has been relegated as a 
> secondary feature reinforcing word order.

How on earth does "Me and Joe went there" and "Us Yorkshiremen most
certainly are _not_ tight" show case reinforcing word order?  I don't

> In a conflict, word order prevails over case marking, but that 
> doesn't mean case is dead in English; it's just vestigial.

In my book, things like the Classical Latin locatives and the 2nd.
decl. vocative in -e of words ending in -us are vestigial cases, because
they still function as case.   While I accept (and I guess And would
also) that the allomorphy of modern contemporary English pronouns are
vestiges of an earlier case system, I do not accept that they are any 
longer cases, vestigial or otherwise.

What I find weird is that while we are (all) happy enough at the notion
that allophones may be positionally conditioned and, indeed, be subject
to extreme interlectal variation (as the very numerous YAEPT and YAEDT
testify), the notion that allomorphs may be condition "by various
heterogeneous syntactic conditions -- with these conditions being, in
contemporary English, subject to quite extreme interlectal variation" is 
so difficult to accept.  That IMO is the real weirdness.