The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 3/15 - Miyagawa (MIT/UTokyo), Wu (MIT), Koizumi (Tohoku U/Harvard)

Speaker: Shigeru Miyagawa (MIT/UTokyo), Danfeng Wu (MIT), Masatoshi Koizumi (Tohoku U/Harvard) 
Title:  Deriving Case Theory
Date and time: Thursday, March 15, 12:30-1:50pm
Location: 32-D461

Case Theory has been central to predicting where DPs occur in a clause. The idea is that (i) a DP is assigned Case by a local [-N] head; (ii) every DP must have Case; (iii) Case may be abstract, which requires adjacency with the [-N] head, or morphological, which does not require adjacency. In this paper we note problems with each of these assumptions, and suggest an entirely different approach based on labeling of structures (Chomsky 2013). This approach not only accounts for the typical Case Theoretic structures, but also the problematic cases we point out. Our account also extends to areas of the grammar that are outside the purview of Case Theory, such as wh-questions, the expletive construction, and topicalization. Also, the [-N]/[+N] distinction Vergnaud drew for case assignment is a reflection of a structural difference between these two groups of lexical categories (Emonds 1985) that is consistent with the labeling approach we propose.