The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 4/2 - Ted Levin

Speaker: Ted Levin
Title: Successive-Cyclic Case Assignment: Case Alternation and Stacking in Korean
Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 2, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

In general, Case theory excludes the option of a DP receiving more than one Case. However, certain constructions arguably demonstrate that this is possible (e.g. see McCreight 1988, Bejar & Massam 1999, Richards 2013, and Pesetsky in press). In this talk, I will examine two separate, but related, phenomena which are problematic for theories which do not permit multiple case assignment – case alternation and case stacking. Case Alternation occurs when a DP displays one of two (or more) case markers in the same structural position. Case Stacking occurs when those two case morphemes are realized simultaneously. Korean demonstrates both phenomena as seen in (1).

(1a) Cheli-eykey/-ka/-eykey-ka ton-i     iss-ta
     Cheli-DAT/-NOM/DAT-NOM    money-NOM exist-DEC
‘Cheli has money.’

(1b) Swunhi-ka  Yenghi-eykey/-lul/-eyekey-lul chayk-ul cwu-ess-ta
     Swunhi-NOM Yenghi-DAT/ACC/-DAT-ACC       book-ACC give-PST-DEC
‘Swunhi gave Yenghi a book.’

In (1a), the subject Cheli displays dative-nominative alternation and stacking. Similarly, the indirect object Yenghi in (1b) displays dative-accusative alternation and stacking. I posit that the examples in (1) and related constructions can be captured if we adopt a cyclic view of case assignment. In Korean (and maybe in fact all languages) DPs receive case in every case assignment domain (i.e. phase) they occupy. Case alternation is captured in this system by restricting the pronunciation of stacked case morphemes via morphological rules.