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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Classical Tibetan cases and their transcategoriality: From sacred grammar to modern linguistics

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This paper proposes a new analysis of the Classical Tibetan case system. After presenting the traditional as well as modern linguistics view on cases, I introduce a new analysis of the Classical Tibetan case system in ten cases: absolutive, agentive, genitive, dative, purposive, locative, ablative, elative, associative and comparative. The present description of morphology, grammatical semantics and syntax of the cases is based on four fundamental properties of the Classical Tibetan casemarkers, namely: cliticity, multifunctionality, transcategoriality and optionality. The originality of this literary case system lies in the multifunctional, transcategorial and optional nature of the casemarkers, which largely contributes to the great syntactic complexity of this old literary language of the Tibeto-Burman family.

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