Contexts for the choice of genitive vs. instrumental in contemporary Lithuanian

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Modern Lithuanian is characterized by variation in the coding of core and peripheral arguments, as these can, in specific circumstances, be marked with either the genitive or the instrumental case (=gen-ins alternation). This alternation occurs in some contexts that can be generalized fairly well, such as the non-Actor and non-Undergoer argument of ditransitives, or anticausatives derived from three-place causatives and corresponding object-oriented resultatives (often from the same stems). There are also some lexically restricted contexts in which the gen-ins alternation can be observed. This topic has so far barely been noticed, let alone been described, so that in our exploratory study we are eager to figure out the types of context which are susceptive to this alternation, and to pinpoint the factors which favour either gen or ins. We distinguish contexts for which either gen or ins is excluded from contexts in which both cases really compete, yielding either slightly different interpretations or coming close to synonymy. The comparison of mutually exclusive and “competitive” contexts allows for approximate conclusions about the different motivations standing behind either of these two morphological cases on the background of the alignment-system in contemporary Lithuanian.The analysis is based on a variety of the Causal Chain Model (Croft) in combination with a decompositional approach relying on the Actor-Undergoer-Hierarchy of Role & Reference Grammar (whose limits are critically assessed in passing), and it leads to a network of factors for which a partial hierarchy is established which becomes important whenever factors conflict.


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