Morphological and abstract case

 

Linguistic Inquiry

 

Winter 2008, Vol. 39, No. 1, Pages 55-101

Posted Online January 4, 2008.

(doi:10.1162/ling.2008.39.1.55)

Morphological and Abstract Case

Julie Anne Legate

Department of Linguistics, 217 Morrill Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. jal252@cornell.edu

 

This article examines the relationship between abstract and morphological case, arguing that morphological case realizes abstract Case features in a postsyntactic morphology, according to the Elsewhere Condition. A class of prima facie ergative-absolutive languages is identified wherein intransitive subjects receive abstract nominative Case and transitive objects receive abstract accusative Case; these are realized through a morphological default, which is often mislabeled as absolutive. Further support comes from split ergativity based on a nominal hierarchy, which is shown to have a morphological source. Proposals that case and agreement are purely morphological phenomena are critiqued.

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