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Rethinking the nature of nominative case

Artemis Alexiadou; Elena Anagnostopoulou

In this squib, we investigate the nature of nominative and accusative case in Greek
from a cross-linguistic perspective in the light of recent discussion on the modes of
case assignment, see Baker (2008; 2015), Bobaljik (2008), Zeijlstra (2012), Preminger
(2014), a.o. We focus on Baker’s (2008; 2015) typology of Case and Agreement
systems asking the question of where Greek is situated in this typology. We argue that
while accusative (acc) fits in the system, qualifying as dependent case on the basis
of Baker’s (2015) criteria, nominative (nom) is more problematic. On the one hand,
Greek nom behaves like unmarked case and is clearly not assigned under
agreement with T in a number of environments. On the other hand, however, agreement
always goes with nom when both are present. Crucially, the language pervasively
shows long-distance chains involving a single in situ nom subject and many T
heads fully agreeing with it. This is incompatible with Baker’s (2008) agreement
and case typology. Building on Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou (1998), we suggest
that Greek has T with interpretable φ-features as a by-product of V raising
satisfying the EPP. This allows for the formation of long-distance chains between
a single DP bearing unmarked nom and many fully agreeing Ts. Turning to the
question of why agreement always goes with nom in Greek, this is compatible
with the view that agreement is sensitive to unmarked case argued for by Bobaljik
(2008), Preminger (2014), Baker (2015), a.o. We adopt this proposal and argue that
the analysis of Greek nom case in connection to agreement requires a separation
of interpretability from valuation (Pesetsky & Torrego 2007). Finally, we address
the implications of our proposal for the theory of pro and compare our analysis to
the Agree theory of pro proposed by Roberts (2010a,b) and Holmberg (2010).

 

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