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Title:Case Patterns
Authors:Ellen Woolford
Abstract:Case Patterns

Ellen Woolford

University of Massachusetts

Standard Case licensing principles are not designed to handle

situations in which the Case of an argument depends on factors

other than the features of the local head, such as how many

additional arguments are present and what Cases those other

arguments have. These problematic valency and dependency

phenomena can be handled if violable markedness and faithfulness

constraints are added to Case Theory.

Examples of such problematic Case phenomenon include the

prohibition on accusative Case licensing on an object when there

is no external subject (Burzio's generalization) or when the

subject has dative or ergative Case. Dative and ergative Case

licensing may also be prohibited when no other argument is

present in the clause. Previous attempts to solve such problems

placed restrictions on accusative Case licensing (Burzio 1986,

Woolford 1993), or ordered/ranked the Case assignment rules (Yip,

Maling, and Jackendoff 1987, Legendre, Raymond, and Smolensky

1993). The approach proposed here retains the standard Case

licensing principles as universal and inviolable, accounting for

dependency and valency effects, and other cross-linguistic

differences in Case patterns with a supplementary set of ranked,

violable markedness and faithfulness constraints. Whenever there

is a choice of licensed Cases for a particular argument (a

situation which occurs frequently), the violable constraints

determine which Case will surface. Markedness constraints prefer

less marked Cases such as nominative over more marked Cases such

as accusative or ergative. Faithfulness constraints require the

realization of lexical Cases licensed by certain verbs.

Under this approach, dependency effects follow from markedness.

Unaccusative constructions, and all other contexts in which it

appears to be necessary to block accusative Case licensing, turn

out to be situations in which either nominative or accusative

Case can be licensed on the object; nominative is selected

because it is the less marked Case. Restrictions on the

distribution of ergative or dative Case to transitive Clauses or

to particular aspects is the result of the interaction of

markedness and faithfulness constraints, including faithfulness

constraints that are contextually restricted.

The same set of violable constraints accounts for the surface

inventory of Cases used in a particular language. All languages

license the same Cases, but not all Cases surface.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1