Preminger (

There are presently three prominent theories of case assignment. The first theory is case assignment via A

(1)

The second theory is Marantz’s (

(2)

a.

Assign idiosyncratic lexical and inherent cases.

b.

Take the remaining DPs. If DP_{α} c-commands DP_{β}, assign dependent case either to DP_{α} (“high”) or to DP_{β} (“low”). This directionality is parameterized.

c.

If a DP was not assigned case in the previous two steps, then assign it unmarked case.

[

The third theory is the combination of the other two theories: a configurational-case model with the addition of case assignment via A

(3)

a.

b.

c.

In a comparison of the three case-assignment models, Preminger (

In this paper, I push back against the second claim and, by extension, the third claim. I will argue that a dependent-case mechanism can be implemented in

The argumentation proceeds as follows: Section 2 briefly reviews Preminger’s (

Preminger’s (

(4)

Let C be a case assigned under A^{0} in an

a.

H^{0} enters the derivation with a φ-probe;

b.

the φ-probe on H^{0} is case-relativized to target DPs bearing case C; and

c.

C is assigned configurationally before H^{0} merges into the structure.

Under the ^{0} only when there is a DP bearing C in H’s search domain. If the φ-probe on H^{0} finds no suitable goal, because there is no DP bearing C in its domain, then A^{0} reflects the φ-features of the highest DP bearing C.

Against this backdrop, let us review Preminger’s three claims about the case-assignment models. The first claim is that given the recipe in (4), the addition of case assignment via A

The second claim is twofold. First, the recipe in (4) can be repurposed to translate any

Finally, the third claim is that given the many arguments in the literature for the notion of dependent case being necessary to account for various case patterns (see e.g.

In this paper, I am contesting the second claim, in particular that any

The A

I will use the term

(5)

unmarked ≫ dependent ≫ lexical

^{0} share the same features, because what projects is the head itself (

(6)

a.

b.

_{1} ≺ _{2} ≺ _{n}_{m}_{m}_{–1} has first been valued—that is, a stack (

(7)

Once a probe on a head H has established an A

[based on

Dependent-case assignment is handled with the probe stack in (8). The first probe,

(8)

The order of the probes in the dependent-case probe stack (8) is crucial. The probe

Given the PMC in (7),

The two types of dependent case—low and high—follow from the syntactic position of the dependent-case probe stack (8) relative to the relevant DPs. For ease of illustration, let us assume the simple functional sequence in (9) and begin by limiting our attention to simple transitive clauses, where the external argument (DP_{EA}) is base-generated in [Spec, _{IA}) is base-generated in [Comp, VP].

(9)

For low dependent case, the dependent-case probe stack is borne by some head above both DP_{EA} and DP_{IA}. Given the _{EA} values _{IA} (10b). Because DP_{EA} establishes an A

(10)

a.

_{EA}

b.

_{IA}

For high dependent case, the dependent-case probe stack is borne by whatever head introduces DP_{EA}, which here is _{IA} values _{EA} merges into [Spec, _{EA} (11b).

(11)

a.

_{IA}

b.

_{EA}

In both low-dependent (10) and high-dependent (11) configurations, there ends up being a DP whose [

If there is no DP in the search domain of (the head bearing) the dependent-case probe stack, then

(12)

(13)

As with any

Another variable factor in the proposed system is case discrimination. Both probes in (8) being case-relativized to “unmarked” derives the canonical dependent-case pattern: only two unmarked DPs standing in a c-command relationship results in dependent case. Changing this setting though to lower positions on the hierarchy in (5) expands the range of licensors and eligible case-assignees, both of which are arguably needed empirically. Manipulating the case discrimination of the first probe allows DPs with valued case to unlock the case-assigning probe—that is, to license dependent case. Baker (

In sum, under this system, dependent-case assignment is achieved via A

For illustration, I demonstrate in this section how the proposed system handles “dative” and “accusative” case in Sakha, as described and analyzed in Baker & Vinokurova (

In Sakha, “dative” is a high dependent case within VP, and “accusative” is a low dependent case elsewhere. (To avoid going too far afield, I do not provide the relevant data supporting these claims; see

(14)

a.

If there are two distinct argumental DPs in the same VP-phase such that DP_{1} c-commands DP_{2}, then value the case feature of DP_{1} as _{2} has already been marked for case. [

b.

If there are two distinct argumental DPs in the same phase such that DP_{1} c-commands DP_{2}, then value the case feature of DP_{2} as _{1} has already been marked for case. [

Under the A

Section 4 already walked through low-dependent and high-dependent configurations in isolation (see (10) and (11)). What is notable here is the combination and interplay between the two configurations. Consider the ditransitive in (15), where the direct object is “accusative”, meaning it has undergone object shift out of VP.

(15)

Min

I

kinige*(-ni)

book -

Masha-qa

Masha-

bier-di-m.

give-

‘I gave the book to Masha.’ [

In VP, the direct-object DP in [Comp, VP] values

(16)

After constructing the VP in (16), the [_{EA} in [Spec,

(17)

If the direct-object DP does not object-shift out of VP, as in (18), then its [_{EA} values

(18)

Min

I

Masha-qa

Masha-

kinige(#-ni)

book -

bier-di-m.

give-

‘I gave Masha books/a book.’ [

When there are fewer than three argumental DPs, then the case-assigning probe on V or T is either never active, because

(19)

a.

b.

c.

d.

e.

f.

[_{v}_{P} DP [_{VP} DP DP ] ]

[_{v}_{P} DP DP_{1} [_{VP} DP ____{1} ] ]

[_{v}_{P} DP [_{VP} DP ] ]

[_{v}_{P} DP DP_{1} [_{VP} ____{1} ] ]

[_{v}_{P} [_{VP} DP DP ] ]

[_{v}_{P} DP_{1} [_{VP} DP ____{1} ] ]

unlock→assign

unlock→assign

unlock

unlock

unlock→assign

unlock→assign

unlock

unlock→assign

unlock

unlock→assign

n/a

unlock

(13a)

(13b)

(12b)

(12a)

(19)

(21b)

(unlock = case-assigning probe is active; assign = case-assigning probe assigns case)

This analysis extends straightforwardly to embedded “accusative” subjects as well. In Sakha, an embedded subject may bear “accusative” case provided that the matrix clause contains another DP, as shown in (20).

(20)

a.

Keskil

Keskil

[

Aisen-

[

kel-bet

come-

dien

that

]

]

xomoj-do.

become.sad-

‘Keskil became sad that Aisen is not coming.’ [

b.

[

Aisen -

[ massyyna

car

atyylah-ar-a

buy-

] ]

naada

need

buol-la.

become-

‘It became necessary for Aisen to buy a car.’ [

B&V analyze this pattern in terms of raising: the embedded subject may move to embedded [Spec, CP], and the embedded CP may move out of VP. If both of these movement steps happen and there is another eligible DP in the matrix clause, the accusative-case rule in (14b) is triggered, thereby assigning “accusative” to the embedded subject. The same analysis can be applied here: if both of these movement steps happen, the embedded subject is accessible to the dependent-case probe stack on T. Thus, if there is another DP to value

It is worth making explicit that this analysis does not succumb to the particular argument that B&V raise against

Recall from section 2 Preminger’s (

By extension, the third claim is incorrect as well, since, if the arguments advanced here are on the right track,

Interestingly, the A

The goal of this paper is not to argue in favor of a particular case-assignment model, but rather to show that the dimension on which the models are standardly compared—namely, what data they can account for—is not (necessarily) the most insightful dimension of comparison. In terms of their empirical reach,

In what remains, I will conclude by discussing several issues that emerge from the proposals here. The first two are essentially empirical issues, and the last two concern theoretical parsimony.

The A

Baker (

(21)

Assign DP_{1} _{2} in the same TP as DP_{1} such that DP_{2} c-commands DP_{1}. [

There is no barrier to

As it stands then, while

This paper has focused on dependent-case assignment, which I see as the core, defining innovation of

The notion of unmarked case sometimes features in arguments for

The A

On the other hand, the individual components of the A

Under

First, there is no (formal) reason that case assignment and φ-agreement cannot be the result of distinct, separate φ-probes. Whether the φ-features copied over to a φ-probe are given exponence is a matter for PF, not the narrow syntax. Although it is reasonable to be uncomfortable with pervasive null agreement, it has always been the price-of-admission for

Second, case-assigning probes (and probe stacks) could just as easily be modelled as probing for [

(22)

a.

b.

These considerations of baroqueness and the link between case and agreement highlight a deeper tension between

Clem & Deal (

For Preminger, C being assigned configurationally may involve C being a lexical case assigned under closest c-command, perhaps by H^{0} itself (so that C and H^{0} travel together). This analysis of lexical case in Preminger (

The formulation of the PMC in (7) differs from the formulation in Rackowski & Richards (

There is a body of work arguing essentially the opposite: when a head bears two probes, those probes have to target a single goal satisfying both probes (e.g.

Under the PMC, ignoring a goal may involve probing

This analysis makes two predictions with respect to high dependent case (which Clem & Deal’s (

The second prediction involves configurations with three DPs: a dependent-case probe stack on H that assigns high dependent case in simple two-DP configurations—one in [Comp, HP] and one in [Spec, HP]—should effectively “switch” to low dependent case when there is more than one DP in [Comp, HP], as schematized in (i).

(i)

a.

[_{HP} _{dep} [ H [ … DP …]]]

b.

[_{HP} DP [ H [ … DP …_{dep} … ]]]

In many instances, (i.b) will not arise because one of the DPs in [Comp, HP] will have already been assigned case (e.g.“dative”). Presumably though, (i.b) needs to be blocked more generally. I leave this task for future research, but note that this problem is similar in nature to how

Interestingly, the A

Furthermore, nothing rules out other A

For ease of presentation, I am assuming a very simple structure for ditransitives, where the indirect object is base-generated in [Spec, VP]—as B&V assume as well. The analysis of Sakha in this section is compatible with other approaches to ditransitives (e.g. with an Appl head); the dependent-case probe stack on V would just need to be moved up to whatever head introduces the indirect object.

It is possible that

A reviewer brings to my attention an independent problem with Cyclic Agree (one of the components necessary for the A

1 = first person; 3 = third person;

For helpful discussion of these and related issues, many thanks to Hashmita Agarwal, Joseph Class, Emily Clem, Amy Rose Deal, Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, Stefan Keine, Arthur Mateos, and three anonymous reviewers.

The author has no competing interests to declare.