1887
Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2589-1588
  • E-ISSN: 2589-1596
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Abstract

Abstract

In case-marking languages with nominative-accusative alignment the subject of a sentence is usually marked by nominative case. In some of these languages, however, the subject of a number of verbs is either consistently or alternately marked by another, non-nominative case. Such non-canonical case marking has often been approached in the linguistic literature as a phenomenon at the interface between syntax and semantics. Yet the predictions of this kind of approach seem more probabilistic than regular. This paper offers a new perspective to analyse the phenomenon, which encompasses the role of information structure in case marking. Drawing on Silverstein’s (1976) theory of differential subject marking and Dalrymple & Nikolaeva’s (2011) approach to differential object marking, it is argued that non-canonically case-marked subjects can be better analysed as instances of either non-topical subjects or subjects lacking one or more semantic features typical of topicality. The approach outlined in the paper is tested on a number of constructions in Russian and Lithuanian. It is shown how, in both languages, the analysed instances of non-canonically case-marked subjects exhibit a complex interplay among grammatical, semantic and discourse-pragmatic factors.

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2020-01-24
2020-04-01
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