Dimensions of the Case Module

  • Yen-Hui Audrey Li
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 19)


Incorporating Case into the grammar of Chinese has important ramifications both for the theory in general and for the grammar of Chinese in particular. Theoretically, it provides support for the status of Case in Universal Grammar, allows us to capture the word order facts of Chinese without resorting to a complex set of phrase structure rules, and offers an account of the surface deviations from word order universals. With respect to Chinese grammar, the claim that objects of V, P, and A are Case positions invites the question of whether these are the only Case positions. The subject position of tensed clauses, for example, has been assumed to be a Case position to which the tense or agreement marker in INFL assigns nominative Case, in contrast to the subject position of infinitives, which has been assumed to be a Caseless position because the infinitival INFL lacks tense and agreement (see, for example, Chomsky 1981, p. 52). The question, then, is whether Chinese distinguishes finite from infinitival clauses with respect to Case assignment to the subject position, even though there is no clear morphological distinction. If there is such a distinction, what would the nominative Case assigner be and why does the subject precede the predicate (as in (1)), if word order is derived from the properties of Case assignment?


Visibility Condition Subject Position Embed Clause Case Module Case Assignment 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yen-Hui Audrey Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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