Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 593–642 | Cite as

Two modalities of case assignment: case in Sakha



Two distinct ideas about how morphological case is assigned exist in the recent generative literature: the standard Chomskyan view that case is assigned by designated functional heads to the closest NP via an agreement relationship, and an alternative view in which case is assigned to one NP if there is a second NP in the same local domain (Marantz 1991). We claim that these two ways of assigning case are complementary, based on data from the Turkic language Sakha. Accusative case and dative case in this language are assigned by Marantz-style configurational rules that do not refer directly to functional categories. This is shown by evidence from passives, agentive nominalizations, subject raising, possessor raising, and case assignment in PPs. In contrast, there is evidence that nominative and genitive are assigned by functional heads in the Chomskyan way, as shown by the distribution of nominative case and the relationship between case marking and agreement. The two methods of case assignment thus coexist, not only in Universal Grammar, but even in the grammar of a single language.


Case assignment Sakha Turkic languages Dependent case Agreement 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilologyYakutsk State UniversityYakutskRussia

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