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Differential Argument Marking in Two-term Case Systems and its Implications for the General Theory of Case Marking

Authors: Peter M. Arkadiev,

Publish Date: 2009
Volume: , Issue:, Pages: 151-171
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In this paper I present a view of case marking that explicitly rejects a commonly assumed position that its primary function is to merely distinguish arguments from one another (cf. Comrie 1978, 1989; Dixon 1979, 1994), while marking them according to their specific semantic or pragmatic functions is a secondary phenomenon. In order to show that such a view (which has already been challenged by many linguists, see section 2) is untenable, I will investigate data from argumentencoding variations in languages which possess only two cases, and will compare them with similar phenomena from languages with richer case systems. As it will be seen, ‘nondiscriminative’ coding strategies found in two-term case systems, though typologically unusual, can be easily accounted for under the assumption that case marking of a particular argument is subject to ‘local’ ‘indexing’ rules and constraints dealing rather with this particular argument, than with the overall ‘global’ relational structure of the clause. The ‘discriminatory’ function, though retaining its importance, is, in this view, no more than just one of the constraints relevant for argument marking, whose ranking with regards to other such constraints is not always and not necessarily high.



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