Nominative case (citation form)

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The term nominative case is sometimes used to denote the citation form of the noun, regardless of its uses. (For the more common definition of nominative, see nominative case.)


This usage reflects the original sense of nominative (Latin nominativus, Greek onomastikée 'naming form'). It is especially common in Caucasian linguistics, which have ergative constructions, and whose citation form would therefore qualify as an absolutive case.

  • "The term nominative should be reserved — in any language — for the most unmarked case whose constitutive function is just to name — lat. nominare — objects. It is the only case that is normally used out of any syntactic context: as a label, in enumerations, etc. Many, however, choose to call such a form absolutive, especially when discussing a non-Indo-European language. But I do not see sufficient reasons for this." (Mel'čuk 1988:208)


  • Mel'čuk, Igor' A. 1988. "Is there an ergative construction in Lezgian?" In: Mel'čuk, Igor' A. 1988. Dependency syntax: theory and practice. Albany: State University of New York Press, 207-249.