Default case without case
Line Hove Mikkelsen, Ellen Thrane
July 2024
 

Case systems often include a special member labelled default case (e.g. Schütze 2001). This paper examines a number of distinct case patterns in Kalaallisut (Inuit, Greenland) and argue that they require us to draw a distinction between syntactic last resort case and morphological default case. In Kalaallisut, syntactic last resort case is instrumental, whereas morphological default case is absolutive (Yuan 2018). I further propose that the distribution of the two cases depends on nominal licensing: if a DP is licensed by phi-Agree or does not require licensing it is realized as absolutive. If a DP requires Case licensing but is not assigned case by regular means, it surfaces with last resort instrumental. The paper centers on noun incorporation structures, where this distinction is especially clear. I show that the default case analysis captures a number of facts about Kalaallisut morphosyntax, including word order contrasts across distinct incorporation structures, the effect of incorporation on case and agreement, and a bi-absolutive case pattern in non-incorporation copular clauses. At a theoretical level, the analysis affirms and extends the idea that default morphological case does not expone a syntactic case feature (Marantz 1991, Schütze 2001, McFadden 2007, Kornfilt & Preminger 2015, Caha 2023).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008250
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Proceedings for WSCLA 27
keywords: default case, last resort case, nominal licensing, incorporation, non-verbal clauses, morphology, syntax
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