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Modern grammars of case: a personal history

Modern grammars of case: a personal history


20 Modern grammars of case: a personal historycase’ itself may set up expectations concerning nouns functioning as A’s (such as ‘typically animate’), ‘agency’ is not a property of nouns. And ‘agentive’ nouns like baker don’t necessarily function as A’s. But ‘agency’ can more plausibly be attributed to a preposition like by. ‘Agency’ percolates only to the non-phrasal constituent in (23.b), the head of the construction in terms of (34) – where percolation is unnecessary, because ‘case’ and kasus are identified. 4.2 The categorial identity of case and preposition Another motivation for the adoption of dependency representations came from the proposals made at about the same time in Anderson (1971c). These provide dependency representations with the capacity to allow for adposition and case inflection as instances of the same category. What is suggested there is that we should distinguish between dependency relations that are accompanied by potential linear difference between head and dependent and those that are not. Thus, the nonsubjective arguments in (35) show the same ‘case’ – let’s call it G(oal) for the moment – despite difference in expression: (35) a. Marcus Rōmam īit Marcus Rome+acc went b. Mark went to Rome They differ in that in the Latin example of (35.a) (and of (1)) the semantic relation occupies the same syntactic position as its dependent, as shown in the partial representation in (36.a), which ignores the role of M and of subcategorisations: (36) a. V : G : | : N : : : : : Rōmam īit b. V : : G : : : : N : : : : : : went to Rome In (36.b) the N is adjoined to the G, as the latter is to the V: its realisation is linearly distinct. In (36.a) the N is subjoined to G; they coincide in linear precedence. The marking of the N as Goalgoverned is carried out by the inflectional morphology, which attaches a suffix to the N stem. This provides for the equivalence of adposition and case inflection. The possibilities introduced by the availability of adjunction vs. subjunction do not yet provide in themselves an answer Kuryłowicz’s question: what representations are appropriate in (32), with preposition combined with case inflection? Recall:

John Anderson 21 (32) a. Ad flūmen iīt puella to river+acc she+went girl b. In Graeciam pervēnit in Greece+acc s/he+arrived Such a question has remained unanswered through most of the history ofcase grammar’. The realisation of semantic relations as both independent word and as morphological affix (or whatever) is one indication that they belong to a functional class – what was later to be called a ‘functional category’. This is argued at some length in Anderson (1997). And such a (functional) status for adpositions has recently been acknowledged within non-‘case-grammar’ developments of the transformational tradition (Baker 2003: App.1), despite the persistent view of them in this tradition as constituting a lexical category on a par with verbs, nouns and adjectives, as embodied in the [±V,±N] notation of Chomsky (1970). Is this a sign that this (central transformational) tradition may eventually develop into a grammar of case? There are other indications of this, as we shall find as we pursue our history. 4.3 ‘Case’ and position At this point, let’s note that by extension (and in accord with the spirit of Anderson 1971c) Anderson (1977: e.g. §2.8.2) argues that a representation such as (36.a) is appropriate even when there is no morphological reflection of the ‘case’ node, but rather the relation is signalled positionally, as in (22.a): (22) a. The door opened The relation ‘subject’ borne by the door may be a neutralised one, but it is clear that crosslinguistically (‘surface’) subjecthood cannot be reduced to a particular position or a particular configuration. All the possible permutations of S, V, and O are found in the languages of the world; and there are ‘non-configurational’ languages (Hale 1983). Positional or configurational properties may in particular languages be manifestations of the presence of subjecthood; but these cannot be considered definitional properties even within a single language. This would render subjecthood incommensurate in different languages. Contrary to Chomsky’s (1965) claims, ‘relational’ nodes are not redundant. Thus, the case phrase in the door in (36) and (34) does not lose its case node. Rather, the phrase in subject position has the N subjoined to the semantic relation: (37) O | N : : the door As is typically the case for subjects, the morphology of English does not support distinctions among the semantic relations of the nouns in subject position: the semantic relations of subjects are morphosyntactically neutralised. And in English even subjecthood itself is for the most part given no morphological expression. I’ll return later to the ‘mechanism’ involved in this. There are other motivations for denying a subsequent derivation involving ‘pruning’ to (34/37) etc. It is undesirable anyway, other things being equal, to incorporate the powerful operation of deletion in accounts of syntax. This brings us on to issue (iv) in (31), to do with

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