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LINGUIST List 18.2437

Sat Aug 18 2007

Qs: Accusative Case

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        1.    Elizabeth Coppock, Accusative Case

Message 1: Accusative Case
Date: 17-Aug-2007
From: Elizabeth Coppock <coppockstanford.edu>
Subject: Accusative Case
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Dear linguists,

In Hungarian 'focus-raising' (a form of long-distance movement like
wh-movement), a subject from a finite subordinate clause can exhibit
accusative case when raised into the matrix clause (e.g. Kiss 1987). This
is illustrated in (1a), where the subject of the embedded clause shows
accusative case in the matrix clause. It would normally be nominative, as
in (1b).

(1) a. János-t mond-t-am hogy jön.
John-Acc say-Past-1.sg Comp come.3.sg
'It was John who I said is coming.'

b. Az-t mond-t-am hogy János jön.
It-Acc say-Past-1sg Comp John.Nom come.3.sg.
'I said that John is coming.'

This is a tiny bit like an ECM/Raising-to-object construction (as in ''We
expect John to be coming''), in that the subject of the lower clause seems
to be assigned accusative case in the upper clause, except that (i) the
embedded clause is finite, and (ii) the matrix accusative does not seem to
function as an object, as I found in my work on this subject for my first
qualifying paper at Stanford.

A somewhat similar phenomenon seems to exist in Korean (e.g. Hong 1985),
where the subject of an embedded finite clause gets accusative case in a
matrix clause (2a). It would normally be nominative as in (2b).

(2) a. Tom-nun Swuni-lul chencay-la-ko mitkoiss-ta
Tom-Top Swuni-Acc genius-Dec-Comp believe-Dec
'Tom believes Swuni to be a genius.'

b. Tom-nun Swuni-ka chencay-la-ko mitkoiss-ta
Tom-Top Swuni-Nom genius-Dec-Comp believe-Dec
‘Tom believes that Swuni is a genius.’

Other constructions that look like subject-to-object raising from a finite
clause, in Austronesian languages and Japanese, are discussed in chapter 10
of Davies and Dubinsky (2004).

Is anyone aware of other languages that have anything like this? Any
examples or references would be welcome. Evidence regarding the object
status of the accusative element would also be helpful.


Liz Coppock
Ph.D. candidate
Stanford University


Hong, S. 1985. A and A’ Binding in Korean and English: GB Parameters. PhD
dissertation, U. of Connecticut.

É. Kiss, K. 1987. Configurationality in Hungarian. Akadémiai Kiado.

Davies, William, and Stanley Dubinsky. 2004. The Grammar of Raising and
Control: A course in syntactic argumentation. London: Blackwell.

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

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