The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 4/28 - Ted Levin

Speaker: Ted Levin (MIT)
Title: The Case Filter is Real
Date: Tuesday, April 28/br> Time: 1:00-2:00pm
Place: 32D-461

Case Theory holds that there is a syntactic property of nominals, Case, that captures aspects of their distribution and form that do not otherwise follow from their PF or LF content (Chomsky 1981, 1986; Chomsky & Lasnik 1995; Lasnik 2008). Nominals that do not receive Case in the course of the derivation violate the Case Filter, yielding ungrammaticality. In the Agree framework, Case is (commonly) held to be feature-valuation and deletion via Agree to satisfy Full Interpretation of the nominal at LF and to give the nominal case morphology at PF (Chomsky 2000, 2001, 2008). However, current thinking has shifted much of the work earlier done by Case to the needs of functional heads, such as [uPhi], reducing the role of Case in DP-licensing. Various accounts have suggested that Case serves solely as a condition on Agree or Move (e.g. Chomsky 2000, 2001), arises ”for free” in the syntax by virtue of [uCase] being able to survive the derivation (e.g.Preminger 2011, 2014), or might be eliminated entirely from syntax (e.g. Marantz 2000, McFadden 2004, Bobaljik 2008, Sigurdsson 2009).

In this talk, I argue that consideration of the needs of nominals cannot be completed eliminated from the calculation of well-formed derivations. I show that in the absence of [uCase], nominals must satisfy alternative distributional requirements, indicative of an alternative licensing strategy that satisfies the Case Filter and cross-cuts any of the implementations of Case above. Specifically, in two disparate environments . pseudo noun incorporated objects and some Austronesian in-situ subjects . the nominal head must display strict linear-adjacency with the verbal head. This need of nominals distinguishes well- and ill-formed derivations. Furthermore, I argue that, because the head-head adjacency requirement is sensitive to linear, not hierarchical, adjacency, the Case Filter must be operative at PF (e.g. Chomsky 1980, Lasnik 2008).