Adpositions and Case: Alternative Realisation and Concord

Marcel den Dikken, Éva Dékány


This paper presents an outlook on ‘inherent case’ that ties it consistently to the category P, in either of two ways: the inherent case particle is either an autonomous spell-out of P or, in Emonds’ (1985, 1987) term, an alternative realisation of a silent P (i.e., a case morpheme on P’s nominal complement that licenses the silence of P). The paper also unfolds a perspective on case concord that analyses it as the copying of morphological material rather than the matching of morphological features. These proposals are put to the test in a detailed analysis of the case facts of Estonian, with particular emphasis on the distinction, within its eleven ‘semantic’ cases, between the seven spatial cases (analysed as alternative realisations of a null P) and the last four cases (treated as autonomous realisations of postpositions). This analysis of the Estonian case system has repercussions for the status of genitive case (structural vs inherent), and for the analysis of (the distribution of ) case concord. It also prompts a novel, purely syntactic outlook on case distribution in pseudo-partitives, exploiting a key contrast between Agree and the Spec-Head relation: when agreement involves the Spec-Head relation, it is subject to a TOTAL MATCH condition.

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