Sep 232020

I’ve posted a pre-print of a paper of mine that’s set to appear in an edited volume. The paper is titled Taxonomies of case and ontologies of case. It is a theoretical review paper of sorts, and it has several intertwined goals:

  1. To show what a system of configurational case assignment would look like when formulated in current syntactic terms (rather than the GB terms in which it was originally proposed, e.g. in Marantz’s 1991 paper).
  2. To show that given (1), the proposal in Baker’s (2015) book, to add case-assignment-under-phi-agreement to a configurational case system, is an empirically vacuous one. Everything it can account for can also be accounted for under a purely configurational system as construed in (1), with no appeal whatsoever to phi-features within the theory of case.
  3. To argue that the system in (1) is therefore sufficient to account for case, cross-linguistically. It is also necessary, in the sense that theories with no dependent-case component are unable to serve as general theories of case.
  4. To remind ourselves that one cannot argue against (3) by, e.g., presenting a language in which the-case-pretheoretically-identified-as-‘accusative’ doesn’t conform to the predictions of dependent case. That would only work if descriptive labels like ‘accusative’ were guaranteed to carve out a natural class of grammatical phenomena, but there is no reason to believe that they do.

The paper can be downloaded here.

(Backup link in case lingbuzz is down: here.)