It is common knowledge that in a number of European languages (e.g.
English) certain case categories apply only to a subset of the overall
stock of nominal lexemes, while being absent from the inflectional system
of the rest. Thus, not all languages make use of their noun-inflectional
potential in a consistent and generalized fashion. For this principled
variation in morphological behavior Oliver A. Iggesen’s monograph
introduces the terminological pair case-symmetry vs. case-asymmetry.
Case-asymmetry has hitherto received hardly any attention in linguistic
literature, neither from a theoretical nor from an empirical perspective.
If ever, its occurrence in European languages has been dismissed as
accidental, and extra-European instances are usually not known to scholars
Iggesen’s book closes this gap by exploring case-asymmetry from a
typological perspective on the basis of a 260-language sample. The author
demonstrates that this underestimated property is indeed manifested by a
considerable number of languages. Following a discussion of the
theoretical foundations and implications of this concept, Iggesen provides
a detailed documentation of the identified instances of case-asymmetry and
introduces a meaningful typological sub-classification of the phenomenon.
Furthermore, he shows that case-asymmetry is functionally motivated and
integrated into the even broader domain of differential relational marking.
The book is supplemented by typological maps.