The absolutive case
is the unmarked
Markedness is a specific kind of asymmetry relationship between elements of linguistic or conceptual structure. In a marked-unmarked relation, one term of an opposition is the broader, dominant one...
In grammar, the case of a noun or pronoun is an inflectional form that indicates its grammatical function in a phrase, clause, or sentence. For example, a pronoun may play the role of subject , of direct object , or of possessor...
of a core argument of a verb (generally other than the nominative
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...
) which is used as the citation form
In linguistics the citation form of a word can mean:* its canonical form or lemma: the form of an inflected word given in dictionaries or glossaries, thus also called the dictionary form....
of a noun.
In ergative languages
In ergative–absolutive languages, the absolutive is the case used to mark both the subject of an intransitive verb
In grammar, an intransitive verb is a verb that has no object. This differs from a transitive verb, which takes one or more objects. Both classes of verb are related to the concept of the transitivity of a verb....
and the object of a transitive verb
In syntax, a transitive verb is a verb that requires both a direct subject and one or more objects. The term is used to contrast intransitive verbs, which do not have objects.-Examples:Some examples of sentences with transitive verbs:...
, in addition to being used for the citation form of a noun. It contrasts with the marked ergative case
The ergative case is the grammatical case that identifies the subject of a transitive verb in ergative-absolutive languages.-Characteristics:...
, which marks the subject of a transitive verb.
For example, in Basque
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...
the noun mutil
("boy") takes the bare singular article
An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun, in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope. The articles in the English language are the and a/an, and some...
both as subject of the intransitive clause mutila etorri da
("the boy came") and as object of the transitive clause Irakasleak mutila ikusi du
("the teacher has seen the boy"), in which the subject bears the ergative ending -a-k
In marked-nominative languages
In nominative–absolutive languages, also called marked-nominative
languages, the nominative has a case inflection, while the accusative and citation form do not. The unmarked accusative/citation form may be called absolutive to clarify that there citation form is used for the accusative case role rather than for the nominative, which it is in most nominative–accusative languages.
In tripartite languages
In tripartite language
A tripartite language, also called an ergative–accusative language, is one that treats the subject of an intransitive verb, the subject of a transitive verb, and the object of a transitive verb each in different ways...
s, both the agent and object of a transitive clause have case forms, ergative and accusative, whereas the agent of an intransitive clause is the unmarked citation form. This is occasionally called the intransitive case
The intransitive case is a grammatical case used in some languages to mark the argument of an intransitive verb, but not used with transitive verbs...
, but absolutive
is also used and is perhaps more accurate, since it is not limited to core agents of intransitive verbs.
In accusative languages
In nominative–accusative languages, both core cases may be marked, but not infrequently only the accusative is. In such situations the term 'absolutive' would aptly describe the nominative, but the term is seldom used that way.