Multiple Case Assignment: An Amis Case Study

Tingchun Chen, 2019

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This dissertation investigates two case-related phenomena: aspect-conditioned differential subject case marking and overt case-stacking, and why case morphology on a DP may correlate with movement of a DP. Guided by data from Amis (Formosan, Austronesian), I argue that case assignment may apply to a single DP more than once and case-stacking is overt realisation of multiple case assignment. In Amis, a DP surfaces with all the cases it has been assigned when it is a contrastive topic. Moreover, Amis provides strong evidence for treating case-stacking truly as stacking of multiple cases, instead of stacking a focus marker over a case marker. In addition, I propose that case morphology and whether a DP can undergo certain type of movement are both mediated by 𝜙-agreement. Specifically, each successful 𝜙- agreement with a DP introduces to the DP a K(ase), a structural correlate of morphological case. This is based on the behaviour of subjects of perfective clauses. Subjects of perfective clauses receive genitive case in a neutral context but appear with an additional nominative case when they are contrastive topics. Moreover, there are additional restrictions on moving these subjects, compared with nominative-marked subjects of imperfective clauses. I posit that subjects of perfective clauses become 𝜙-defective as a result of agreeing with perfective Asp(ect). This is manifested in one fewer instance of case assignment, which results in genitive case on the surface, and inability to be attracted by certain complex A/A'-movement probes. A repair strategy applies to satisfy an interpretational need when they are contrastive topics. As an indirect consequence, these subjects remain active for 𝜙-agreement and therefore, appear with additional case morphology.

Thesis Supervisor: Sabine Iatridou

Title: Professor of Linguistics

Thesis Supervisor: David Pesetsky

Title: Professor of Linguistics and Chair

Thesis Supervisor: Norvin Richards

Title: Professor of Linguistics and Chair