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Order of cases?

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Order of cases?

Postby Jacobus » Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:21 pm

Salvete,

I have been wondering recently why the cases in inflected languages are written in different orders depending on which language you are studying - even when two or more languages share (at least partly) the same case names.

For example, in German they write "Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative".
In Russian they write "Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Instrumental, Prepositional (or Locative)"
In Latin I believe you write "Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Ablative" and where appropriate Vocative afterward.

Does anyone have any idea why? At first I believed that you write the cases out in the order you learn them, but this can't be true with all languages because I learned the Accusative case long before the Dative had even been mentioned in Russian. Out of interest, how does it work in Ancient Greek, and if anyone knows, Modern Greek? I know nothing about either forms of Greek, so please give the case names in full.

Multas gratias ob responsa. Gratiam habeo.

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Re: Order of cases?

Postby IreneY » Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:52 pm

Well, in Ancient Greek it's "Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Vocative"
In Modern Greek we've "lost" the Dative so it's "Nominative, Genitive, Accusative, Vocative".
Modern Greek obviously follows the pattern of ancient Greek. What grammarian/scholar decided on that order and why I have no idea. It's obviously not the one you learn first though, since Vocative is the case you use to call/address someone and therefore is one of the first a person learns.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Essorant » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:58 pm

I began studying Old English much before Latin and Greek and became so used to the accusative case being listed right after the nominative case that even today when I write out a memory-list of inflections I follow that order. And when I am looking in a Latin or Greek grammar my eyes often don't follow the order in which they are listed in the grammar, but they look at the nominative and then take a detour to the accusative and then back up to the genitive. It is strange how persistent little habits are.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:20 pm

Well, strictly speaking, the order of cases belongs to a grammatical tradition rather than to the language itself so I've seen different orders for the same language. I know for example that German grammars used to have a traditional Latin-like order, e.g. in the book at http://books.google.de/books?id=pnoKAAA ... #PPA237,M1. Just for fun, I looked through various grammars I have (in English) for different languages and found:

German: Nom. Acc. Dat. Gen.
Russian: Nom. Acc. Gen. Dat. Instr. Prep.
Russian: Nom. Acc. Gen. Dat. Loc. Instr.
(Modern) Greek: Nom. Acc. Gen. Voc.

I guess people have reasons for the orders, but they're not really clear to me. Like with the traditional order, I don't really see the logic. I can see why the nominative would come first. At first I thought the genitive is second because of the tradition of identifying the declension class of a noun in terms of its nominative and genitive, but now, since the order goes way back, I wonder if it's the other way round and the genitive is used for identification because it comes second. Either way, why the order for the rest of the cases?

I know once principle that a lot of modern grammars use (and I think this is the traditional one in Sanskrit) is to order them so that cases that have the same (or similar) form in certain declensions are placed together. This isn't always possible, though, e.g. with German, the dative is usually the same as the nom. and acc. in the singular but in the plural the genitive is. I find this kind of order more useful as a learner but I'm not quite sure it actually is more useful.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Jacobus » Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:28 pm

Thanks for your opinions. Essorant, I have a similar habit to you in that respect. Despite the tradition for the Russian accusative case to be listed fourth, I tend to follow the accepted German order as far as is possible even for Russian, as I began to learn German about six years before I started Russian. I am trying to get used to the accepted order of the Latin cases, though. I'm not quite sure why this is - mainly to keep with tradition, I suspect.

Perhaps the reason does indeed have something to do with the case's function from a grammatical point of view. Noun declinations in Latin are based on their nominative and genitive forms (thank you, modus.irrealis), as is the case in Russian - the nominative is considered the base form of the noun and the genitive singular is used to determine the position of word stress - German does not share this feature, though, as word stress in German (at least to an English speaker) is very predictable. As the other oblique cases do not serve any further grammatical purpose beyond their normal functions as direct and prepositional objects, their positions in declination tables in relation to each other do not have such a rigid pattern.

That's my idea, anyway. What are the orders in other languages, for example, Sanskrit? I would imagine that languages related to Russian, such as Ukranian, would have the same order as the Russian cases. Perhaps the tradition of order is unique to each language family - the Germanic languages having one order, the Indo-European group having another and the Indo-Aryan languages having yet another?

Thanks
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby loqu » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:08 am

I learnt the Latin declensions with this order:

Nom. Voc. Acc. Gen. Dat. Abl.

Some books use the other order and then I get confused.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Jacobus » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:00 pm

Ioqu, do you think that the reason that the Nominative and Vocative in your case are written next to each other is because their forms are generally the same? Or did you learn them that way because that was how you wanted to learn them?

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Re: Order of cases?

Postby NuclearWarhead » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:58 pm

In Denmark, we usually order our cases thus for Latin and Greek: Nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative. When dealing with Old Norse, however, the order usually is nominative, accusative, dative, genitive.

As for the Sanskrit, the Hindu grammarians order the cases like this prathamā (nom), dvitīyā (acc), tṛtīyā (inst), caturhī (dat), pañcamī (abl), ṣaṣṭhī (gen), saptamī (loc). As you can see, the Sanskrit cases are called by number. Also, they don't consider the vocative a real case. That is also the order followed in Macdonell's Sanskrit Grammar.



@Jacobus
The Germanic languages are a part of the Indo-European languages.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Jacobus » Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:41 am

The more points of view that seem to be collected in one place, the more I think that actually, the order of the cases is ultimately down to personal preference - unless it is actually down to the country in which you learn the language... which will undoubtedly be disproved in the next post :P

NuclearWarhead wrote:The Germanic languages are a part of the Indo-European languages.


I don't know why, but I always seem to forget that. I briefly thought the order may be down to subgroups within language families, but maybe that's not right, either. Thanks, NuclearWarhead

Thanks for your posts.

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Re: Order of cases?

Postby loqu » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:14 pm

Jacobus wrote:Ioqu, do you think that the reason that the Nominative and Vocative in your case are written next to each other is because their forms are generally the same? Or did you learn them that way because that was how you wanted to learn them?

Jack


I did not decide the order, it was the one written on my books. I think that's pretty decisive.

You are also right that they may be grouped that way because of form similarities: Nominative+Vocative(+Accusative), Genitive+Dative, Dative+Ablative.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Jacobus » Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:20 pm

Thank you, Ioqu. I do not know the case endings well enough to be able to comment on the similarities between the other oblique cases, although I know the nominative and vocative are generally the same, and the accusative generally doesn't change very much in any language, so that may be why the nominative and accusative are sometimes grouped together. Perhaps, in terms of practicality, it is easier when similar cases are grouped together because then learners are able to see their similarities far easier than if two relatively similar cases were spread out. Just a thought.

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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Bert » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:23 pm

Some Greek grammars list them nom, acc, gen, dat.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Jacobus » Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:20 am

Bert wrote:Some Greek grammars list them nom, acc, gen, dat


Bert, that's the same way the cases are normally written out in German grammars, too. In German, the nominative and accusative are alike, and the dative and the genitive are alike. Is the same true in Greek? That may also account for why in German, it's fairly common for them to either be listed "Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative" or "Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive" - the subject must logically come first, so the first two are fixed, and the genitive and dative have no especially specific grammatical function, and so are listed interchangeably in terms of order. Starting to see some patterns, finally. Thanks guys :)

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Re: Order of cases?

Postby timeodanaos » Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:12 pm

The grammars I have that are written in German generally have the same order as the English - nominative-genitive-dative-accusative-ablative - both Rubenbauer-Hofman (Latin grammar) and a German grammar, apparently based on the order proponed by ancient grammarians, e.g. Donatus.

I once heard that it was Madvig (who, in the nineteenth century made some of the best Latin grammars as well as Greek) that 'invented' the nominative-accusative-genitive-dative-ablative order, based on similarity of morfology and the different syntactic uses (accusative comes naturally after nominative since accusative denotes the direct object, etc.), but that might be a telltale, since we Danes have a tendency of making ourselves seem just a tad more progressive than we might actually happen to be.

I prefer the latter, probably because that order is what I learned language looking at.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby NuclearWarhead » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:09 am

For fun, I might add that the Hellenistic Grammarian Dionysios Thrax used the following order and terms: "πτώσεις ὀνομάτων εἰσὶ πέντε· ὀρθή, γενική, δοτική, αἰτιατική, κλητική." (There are five cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative).

(Dionysios Thrax: τέχνη γραμματική, 1.1.31.5)
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby quendidil » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:17 am

Incidentally, does anyone know what traditional ways of RECITING the cases for different languages? I personally started teaching myself Latin with the singular followed by the plural of each case but various materials indicate that the traditional order is to recite all the singulars then the plurals. I still prefer my own way, but is this the norm for other languages like Sanskrit?

I also read in a Sanskrit textbook that the traditional way of reciting Sanskrit verb conjugations was to start from the third person, I don't remember if they said to follow with the dual and plural of each person or they recited all the singulars of each person though.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Jacobus » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:41 pm

I have absolutely no idea at all about Sanskrit. In Russian, though, our lecturers tend to recite all the singulars and then the plurals. I assume that system would apply for languages like Latin and Greek, too, but I don't know really. German does not decline its nouns, but rather the articles and pronouns that are attached to the nouns. My teachers never really recited the declinations, but I would imagine that they would go through it one case at a time. But I think German is largely irrelevant for your question. I'll let someone else answer for your specific question on Sanskrit, as I'd be guessing :)

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Re: Order of cases?

Postby easternugget » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:05 pm

Though not cases, in my Hebrew class, we conjugate verbs started with the 3 masculine singular going to the 1st common singular then jump over to the plural 3rd person down to the 1st common plural. It really threw me off for a while after having Greek paradigms drilled in my head. But I also remember doing the Nom, Acc, Gen, Dat in German class in High School then coming to college and being slightly thrown off by the Greek Nom, Gen, Dat, Acc.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Nehad » Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:53 am

Hello
I also was wondering why were the cases orderd so
we study in my college as
nom ., voc ., acc ., dat ., abl .

many books mention them in a different way as you said
nom ., gen., dat., acc., abl .
I was wondering why had they put dat. before the acc. although I feel that mentioning the dat before the abl., is easier to remember ..
by the way .. I find them easier in another order .. which is
nom., gen ., acc ., dat . abl ., and then voc.,
this's easier to me because even when I study Modern Greek I find it nom ., gen ., acc
so I think this's the best order at least for me .. lol ^_^ but I hope that it helps me
Anyway .. we use the order just to make memorizing easier but when you deal with texts it will not mean so much if you memorize abl. before or after dat .. all which will be important to remember that this ending belongs to the acc. or nom., etc ..
^_^
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Auberon » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:25 pm

I don't trust people who use PC's instead of Macs, people who hate cats, people who watch the show Friends, and of course people who prefer any declension order other than N-G-D-Acc-Abl-Voc.
Given the choice between accomplishing something and just lying around, I'd rather lie around. No contest.—Eric Clapton
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Bert » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:44 am

Auberon wrote:I don't trust people who use PC's instead of Macs, people who hate cats, people who watch the show Friends, and of course people who prefer any declension order other than N-G-D-Acc-Abl-Voc.

And I don't trust anyone who uses arbitrary standards to judge someone. :D
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Lex » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:51 am

There are two kinds of people I can't stand. Those who are intolerant of other peoples' cultures, and the Dutch.

:wink:
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby annis » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:54 am

Auberon wrote:I don't trust people who use PC's instead of Macs, people who hate cats, people who watch the show Friends, and of course people who prefer any declension order other than N-G-D-Acc-Abl-Voc.


My own rule until now has been "never trust a man who hates lentils." I may have to amend it.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Bert » Thu Apr 02, 2009 1:19 am

Lex wrote:There are two kinds of people I can't stand. Those who are intolerant of other peoples' cultures, and the Dutch.

:wink:
I agree.... Hey wait a minute! Something not right here.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby ingrid70 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:10 am

Bert wrote:
Lex wrote:There are two kinds of people I can't stand. Those who are intolerant of other peoples' cultures, and the Dutch.

:wink:
I agree.... Hey wait a minute! Something not right here.


You could see it as a compliment: apparently, the Dutch are tolerant of other peoples' cultures. I wish it were true...

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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Lex » Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:46 pm

ingrid70 wrote:
Bert wrote:
Lex wrote:There are two kinds of people I can't stand. Those who are intolerant of other peoples' cultures, and the Dutch.

:wink:
I agree.... Hey wait a minute! Something not right here.


You could see it as a compliment: apparently, the Dutch are tolerant of other peoples' cultures. I wish it were true...


Well, actually, it's just an quotation from the last Austin Powers movie. I have nothing against the Dutch. The Belgians, however.... :wink:
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Clemens » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:13 am

Just for completeness: The traditional way for ordering the German cases is Nominativ, Genitiv, Dativ, Akkusativ. That is the way we learn it in school and also the usage of (popular) grammars I know of. The ordering Nom. Akk. Gen. Dat. may be used for pedagogical or linguistic reasons. So traditional grammars also use this ordering (more or less) for Latin and Greek - but you can also find nom. acc. gen. dat. being used.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Lucus Eques » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:24 pm

Heh, I like what Auberon said.

So, this all comes from the Greeks who first in Europe ordered the cases:

NOM
GEN
DAT
ACC
VOC

No Ablative, of course. And so the Roman's kept the same order and just stuck Ablative at the end:

NOM
GEN
DAT
ACC
VOC
ABL

But at some point (probably more in modern times), Latin would come to embody the vocative-last policy (due to its rarity, no doubt):

NOM
GEN
DAT
ACC
ABL
VOC

And that is the traditional order.

The placement of Accusative second is common in Northern Europe, and I find it really annoying (especially in LINGVA LATINA). The notion must come from a desire to expose the similarity between Accusative and Nominative — I find this unhelpful, since the Genitive is listed second always in the dictionary.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby hznfrst » Wed May 27, 2009 1:30 pm

The "traditional" case order of nom/gen/dat/acc/abl is arbitrary and as it turns out irrational because it ignores the very helpful phenonmenon of syncretism, where similar endings are grouped together. Taking this into account, the more logical order of cases in Latin, German, Russian and probably Greek is nom/acc/gen/dat/abl. The accusative is often identical with the nominative in all these languages (in Latin neuters, in German articles, in Russian alternating between looking the same as either nominative or genitive), and in Latin shoehorning accusative between genitive and ablative also disguises the similarity between the dative and ablative.

Textbooks everywhere have been using the nom/acc/gen/dat order in German for some time, because it's *easier*. The same goes for Russian texts, which use nom/acc/gen/prepositional(=locative)/dative/instrumental(=ablative, sort of). In addition to syncretism between cases, there is also syncretism between the masculine and neuter genders in all three languages. It is entirely practical to create tables which combine masculine with neuter into one column, because the endings only differ in the nominative and accusative.

Memorizing inflections is a pain in the neck no matter how you slice it, so why not minimize the pain? And keep the vocative out of these tables! It's so rarely different from the nominative it makes no sense to clutter them with superfluous entries.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Lucus Eques » Wed May 27, 2009 3:43 pm

But syncretism is a false friend; it is, in my opinion and my personal experience, better for the memory to recall the repetition of, say, the ablative -o from the dative -o, or the ablative -ibus after the dative -ibus, after the accusative has passed by — if it's spaced out, the memory is stretched. For the sake of analogy, it's like a runner stretching before a short race (it's harder to stretch if you're not used to it), as opposed to just running, which is easier at first, but makes life harder later. The traditional order is harder at first, but easier in the long run, because then one is much less obsessed with the "order," and concentrates instead on the "case" — As my students have used both tradition and syncretic case orders, some of my students have complained about not being prepared for a quiz because they memorized the wrong order; they did not do what the others did: learned the case ending, rather than attempting to use the order as a crutch.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby spiphany » Wed May 27, 2009 4:11 pm

hznfrst wrote:Textbooks everywhere have been using the nom/acc/gen/dat order in German for some time, because it's *easier*. The same goes for Russian texts, which use nom/acc/gen/prepositional(=locative)/dative/instrumental(=ablative, sort of).

Not really, unfortunately, at least as far as Russian textbooks are concerned. I used/referenced 3 or 4 of them when I was learning, and it seemed like every single one of them gave a different table for noun declension. This was extremely irritating coming from Greek and Latin, where the order is pretty much fixed (within individual countries, at least).
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby hznfrst » Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:49 am

Another way to learn Latin case endings is to rotate the tables 90 degrees - then the rows represent the declensions and the cases appear in columns. This way the similarities and differences of cases can be compared across declensions, and certain things jump out at you. One of these is that there is syncretism to some extent in declensions as well as cases, especially between the 2nd and 4th and the 3rd and 5th.

Using the case order from left to right of Nom/Acc/Gen/Dat/Abl, declension order from top to bottom of 1st/2nd/4th/3rd/5th and tables for singular and plural, the nom. and acc. non-neuter genders look like this:

-a -am
-us -um
-us -um
-xx -em
-es -em

-ae -as
-i -os
-us -us
-es -es
-es -es

Playing around with information like this can be a very helpful for learning, in my experience. Writing them down a few times will eventually get them to stick in your memory so you won't need to refer to the generally klutzy, confusing, overblown and space-wasting nightmare versions found in most textbooks!
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:31 pm

That reminds me -- are there any attempts to describe the inflection of nouns in Latin or Greek on a case by case basis, i.e., this is how you form the accusative, this is how you form the genitive, etc.? This would basically ignore the fact that Latin and Greek inflection is structured in terms of paradigms/declensions but I know that a lot of linguists today don't view paradigms as being basic elements of abstract morphology and just describe things in terms of a morpheme for accusative, a morpheme for genitive, etc., which have different forms in different contexts. This works nicely for languages like Turkish where there's basically one declension and so you can describe each case differently (and Turkish is even nicer in that the case inflections are separate from the inflections for number) but I've seen it done for German where the inflections are simple enough that you can get away with it. But has anybody tried it for Latin or Greek? I have seen something similar for the verbal morphology of Modern Greek and it was extremely convoluted (and sort of sneaked in historical developments as if they were modern rules, which seemed odd to me) but you could get some useful wide-ranging rules, like that -m rule for the accusative singular.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby cb » Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:14 pm

hi, theodosius' canons is the closest thing i could think of (he tells you how to decline nouns without following the traditional declension paradigms):

http://schmidhauser.us/docs/apollonius- ... r.1821.pdf

i don't think it's quite what you were referring to though. my other grammars, recent and old, for both languages, follow the traditional paradigms.

cheers, chad :)
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Skirnir » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:13 pm

My New Testament book uses NAGDV, so I do so out of habit. What I may try doing is use NVAGD in the future, since the vocative and nominative are frequently the same, and other times very similar.
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby Sanskrit » Sun May 13, 2012 4:04 pm

NuclearWarhead wrote:As for the Sanskrit, the Hindu grammarians order the cases like this prathamā (nom), dvitīyā (acc), tṛtīyā (inst), caturhī (dat), pañcamī (abl), ṣaṣṭhī (gen), saptamī (loc). As you can see, the Sanskrit cases are called by number. Also, they don't consider the vocative a real case. That is also the order followed in Macdonell's Sanskrit Grammar.

In Sanskrit there are six cases classified as kārakas which relate to the verb, the genetive is called sambandha because it denotes a relationship between nouns and the vocative (sambodhana) is also called a vishesha of the prathamā, meaning a variation of the nominative. The numbering of the cases is very practical for memorisation, because the similar endings are placed close to each other. The dual endings in particular are very similar to each other. In some books the vocative is placed at the end of the table and in some books it is places after the nominative. I prefer the placement after the nominative, because it is easier to remember this way.

The cases are indeed called by number, but they also have a more descriptive name. This table gives an overview of the cases in Sanskrit:
http://chitrapurmath.net/sanskrit/supp004.pdf

1a. prathamā (nominative) = kartṛ (agent)
1b. " visheshaṇa (vocative) = sambodhana (adress)
2. dvitīyā (accusative) = karma (patient)
3. tṛtīyā (instrumental) = karaṇa (means)
4. caturhī (dative) = sampradāna (recipient)
5. pañcamī (ablative) = apādāna (source)
6. ṣaṣṭhī (genitive) = sambandha (relation)
7. saptamī (locative) = adhikaraṇa (locus)
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Re: Order of cases?

Postby moleculo » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:08 pm

Hello, guys!

I am from Russia and I can assure you that the correct order of cases in Russian language is:

Nominative (Именительный)
Genetive (Родительный)
Dative (Дательный)
Accusative (Винительный)
Instrumental (Творительный)
Prepositional (Предложный)

There are several mnemonics used to remember this order, for example:

"Иван Романович, Дайте Вашу Трубку Покурить" (Ivan Romanovich, give [me] your pipe [to] smoke")

Just a note. Thanks for your attention! :D
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