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The term flag is occasionally used as a cover term for cases and adpositions.

Term properties

Flagging can be used for 'case/adpositional marking', and the verb to flag can be used for 'to mark by case/adposition'.


The term flag is not at all widely known, but the alternatives based on case have the disadvantage of biasing the terminology toward case, while the alternatives based on relation/relator have the disadvantage that the underlying concept of relation is extremely broad.



The term had some currency in Relational Grammar in the 1970s and 1980s. An early attestation is in Johnson & Postal (1980). Recently it has been used in a typological context in Haspelmath (2005).

  • "5. Flagging: Tzotzil uses prepositions and so-called 'relational nouns' to mark NPs for their grammatical or thematic relations — to FLAG them, in the terminology of relational grammar." (Aissen 1987:11)


  • Aissen, Judith L. 1987. Tzotzil clause structure. Dordrecht: Reidel.
  • Croft, William. 2003. Typology and universals. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Haspelmath, Martin. "Argument marking in ditransitive alignment types." Linguistic Discovery 3.1:1-21. download
  • Johnson, David E. & Postal, Paul M. 1980. Arc Pair Grammar. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Kilby, David. 1981. "On case markers." Lingua 54:101-133.

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