On the Internal Structure of Case in Finno-Ugric Small Clauses

Ora Matushansky


In this paper I will argue that case-marking on the predicate of a small clause in Finno-Ugric languages reflects the complexity of the environment that the small clause finds itself in. I will show that the dynamic vs. stative nature of the main verb (presence or absence of the change-of-state presupposition), the (non-)deficient nature of the v (unaccusative vs. transitive), time-stable vs. transient interpretation of the copula and the lexical semantics of the verb (“light” verbs vs. all others) can all affect predicate case-marking. The resultant surface form, however, does not always correspond to the complex underlying specification, due to the fact that vocabulary insertion rules are characterized by under specification and impoverishment. As a result, identical case labels can fail to indicate the differences in the underlying specification of a case-marked constituent even in closely related languages and within a single language. I will argue that observable patterns of predicate case-marking provide a strong argument against the hypothesis that a given constituent can bear only one case feature (cf. Merchant 2006, Caha 2007 and Richards 2007). Independently available data (cf.Plank 1995) suggest that the accumulation of case features on a single XP constituent need not reflect multiple case-assignment to this constituent, but rather involve case assignment to larger constituents dominating XP.

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