LINGUIST List 3.32

Wed 15 Jan 1992

Disc: Nominative in Non-finite Clauses

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  1. , Re: 3.28 Nominative in Non-finite Clauses
  2. Chandrashekar Siddaramaiah, Re: Nominative in Non-finite clause

Message 1: Re: 3.28 Nominative in Non-finite Clauses

Date: Mon, 13 Jan 92 13:15:07 ESRe: 3.28 Nominative in Non-finite Clauses
From: <jdbobaljAthena.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.28 Nominative in Non-finite Clauses

I would just like to throw my two cents' worth into the discussion of
Nominatives in Infinitives, especially as it relates to Lezgian, even
though I am not working on the language.

What worries me is the use of the term "Nominative" to apply to the
Case in question in Lezgian. According to all I have been able to find
(to wit: Jazyki Narodov SSSR, and a few mentions in work by Kibrik
[Moscow] and Mel'cuk [Montreal]), Lezgian is an Ergative / Absolutive
language in its Case morphology. That is, what has been called the
"Nominative" Case in the literature and in this discussion, is the
Case which shows up on intransitive subjects and transitive objects,
ie. *not* the Case which marks transitive subjects. In other language
families, this Case has been traditionally called the Absolutive.

While much recent literature both on certain languages, and on
Ergativity as a phenomenon has returned to the name Nominative for
this Case, I think this terminology firstly creates confusion, but
more importantly presumes a certain theoretical analysis without
question or discussion.

In one of the language families I am currently working with,
Eskimo-Aleut, there is a construction which looks like an infinitive
complement clause, but shows agreement with transitive objects and
intransitive subjects - the Absolutive Case (i.e. what is often called
Nominative in the literature). This construction never shows
(agreement with or presence of) transitive subjects though. This has
created a lot of confusion as to the nature of the construction - if
it is not an infinitive, then why can't there be a transitive subject,
but if it is an infinitive, why can there be an intransitive subject.
What this calls for, I think, is not a revision of GB or theories of
Nominative Case assignment/checking, but rather a closer look at the
nature of Ergativity and Case relations in Ergative languages.

On this note, then, I am not at all surprised that Lezgian shows
intransitive subjects and transitive objects in infinitive clauses.
What would surprise me, and I leave this as an open question to anyone
who has read this far down my rambling posting, is if Lezgian were to
show Ergative arguments (i.e. transitive subjects) in infinitive

I would be very happy to enter into off-the-list discussions with
anyone about this as it's very germane to a paper in progress which
I'll be presenting in the end of February.

-Jonathan Bobaljik
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Message 2: Re: Nominative in Non-finite clause

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 92 13:07:05 PSRe: Nominative in Non-finite clause
From: Chandrashekar Siddaramaiah <chandraszimmer.CSUFresno.EDU>
Subject: Re: Nominative in Non-finite clause

Dr. Pesetsky, in response to Martin's earlier posting on Lezgian
non-finite clauses, suggests that the embeded subject marked
nominative in non-finite clauses is raised to the object position of
the matrix clause. Since, the object NP in a Dat-Nom. construction,
appears with nominative case in general (not in all languages),
Dr. pesetsky argues that the so-called Nominative subject of a
non-finite clause is not really the subject of the embeded clause, but
it is the object of the main clause. This is not really the case in
languages like Lezgian and Dravidian. Dravidian languages are rich in
argreement. Subject NP's agree with verbs in person, number and
gender as shown in the following examples from Kannada, a Dravidian language.

1. ja:nanu u:Tawannu ma:Duttidda:ne
 John-nom food-acc eating 3sm.
2. me:riyu u:Tawannu ma:Duttidda:Le
 Mary-nom food-acc eating 3sf
3. awaru u:Tawannu ma:Duttidda:re
 They food-acc eating 3plm/f

But, in Dat-Nom. construction (Psych-verb consturction), Subject NP is
marked dative and the object NP is marked nominative and the verb
agrees with the nominative marked object in number, person and gender.

4. ja:nani-ge a: huDigiyu isTawa:daLu
 John-dat that girl liked 3sf
5. ja:nani-ge a: huDuganu isTawa:danu
 John-dat that boy liked 3sm

Given this, if we assume that Dr. Pesetsk's analysis is correct, we
should have agreement markers for number, person and gender on the
matrix verb suggesting that the so-called nominative subject of a
non-finite caluse has been raised to the object of the matrix clause.

6. S1 [ NP-Dat NP-nom i [ ti...V [non-finite] ]...V [finite]]]
This is simply not the case as can be shown from the follwing example
from Kannada.

7. ja:nani-ge [me:riyu billan-annu madivea:galu] santo:shava:yitu
 John-Dat Mary-nom Bill-acc to-marry happiness happened 3pn.
 'John was happy that Mary married Bill'

(7) shows that it is possible to have nominative subjects in
non-finite clauses in Kannada in particular and Dravidan language in
general. (V + al is a non-finite verb in Kannada and we do
not have agreement marker on the main verb showing agreement with
'Mary', subject of the embeded clause, if we assume that it is raised
to the obect position).
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