Varieties of Instrumental

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Instrumental case typically marks the semantic role of an instrument. There are seven strategies for the coding of concomitant functions, including instrumental functions. These are concomitant predication (converbs, gerunds, coverbs), adpositional marking, case marking, verb derivation, incorporation, conversion, and lexical fusion. Cross-linguistically, all of these strategies are also found for the marking of instrumental functions. Individual languages may have several of them, and may differ with respect to which of the strategies they prefer. This article deals not only with case marking, but also with adpositional marking. For one thing, instrumental marking through adpositions is more common than case marking, as the instrumental is typically not a structurally or syntactically definable case but a semantic case that marks peripheral participants and adjuncts. This article explores the functional varieties and polysemy patterns of the instrumental case by looking at a sample of 200 languages.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Case
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743535
ISBN (Print)9780199206476
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept 18


  • Adpositional marking
  • Adpositions
  • Case marking
  • Concomitant functions
  • Instrumental case
  • Instrumental functions
  • Languages
  • Lexical fusion
  • Polysemy
  • Predication


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