LINGUIST List 19.3409

Fri Nov 07 2008

Review: Typology: de Hoop & de Swart (2008)

Editor for this issue: Randall Eggert <>

        1.    Mohammad Mahand, Differential Subject Marking

Message 1: Differential Subject Marking
Date: 05-Nov-2008
From: Mohammad Mahand <>
Subject: Differential Subject Marking
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Announced at EDITORS: de Hoop, Helen; de Swart, PeterTITLE: Differential Subject MarkingSERIES: Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic TheoryPUBLISHER: SpringerYEAR: 2008

Mohammad Rasekh Mahand, Linguistics Department, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan,Iran.

SUMMARYDifferential Subject Marking is a phenomenon which may take many forms. Thisbook tries to unify formal approaches to language with the typologicalenterprise. It is composed of eleven papers, including case studies ofDifferential Subject Marking and theoretical discussions, and an introductorychapter written by the editors. The editors in their introduction to the bookgive a review of past and present studies on Differential Subject Marking indifferent research fields.

Ellen Woolford in her paper, ''Differential Subject Marking at argumentstructure, syntax and PF'', argues that all Differential Subject Marking effectsthat involve case marking do not have the same cause, and the cannot have aunified theoretical account. She distinguishes four types of DifferentialSubject Marking effects: 1) depending on the lexical selection properties of theverbs, 2) triggered by different syntactic contexts such as transitivity, 3)phonological constraints on the morphological realization of certain casefeatures, and 4) person or animacy effects.

''Quantitative variation in Korean case ellipsis: implications for case theory'',is a chapter written by Hanjung Lee. The situation in Korean is a clear exampleof Aissen's (2003) model of Differential Subject Marking. The writer shows thatcases are most frequently omitted from objects low in animacy and from subjectshigh in animacy, and the same holds with respect to person and definitenessfeatures. These findings support the mirror image analysis between DifferentialSubject Marking and Differential Object Marking effects as proposed by Aissen(2003).

In the next paper Helen de Hoop and Bhurana Narasimahan in their chapterentitled ''Ergative case marking in Hindi'' argue that subjects in this languageare not low prominent, but high prominent arguments; thus, providing clearevidence against the fact that differential case marking on subjects is alwaysmotivated by the need to disambiguate subjects from objects. They conclude thatcase marking can also have the function of marking high prominent subjects orobjects.

Jaklin Kornfilt's paper is ''Differential Object Marking and two types ofDifferential Subject Marking in Turkish''. Regarding Turkish data, Kornfiltargues that case marking is in principle used to mark high prominent arguments,but can be overruled in both directions by syntactic requirements. Thus, shestrongly rejects Aissen's (2003) mirror image approach to Differential ObjectMarking and Differential Subject Marking.

Joanna Blaszczak examines the alternation between genitive and nominativesubjects in her chapter on ''Differential Subject Marking in Polish, the case ofgenitive vs. nominative subjects in 'X was not at Y' constructions''. She showsthat in Polish the subject of a negated locative sentence bears genitive ornominative cases depending on aspectual specific context, as in affirmativecontexts the subject is marked as nominative. She argues that the DifferentialSubject Marking effect in this type of intransitive constructions is in fact dueto a prominence distinction in the argument input.

Peter M. Arkadiev in his chapter ''Differential argument marking in two-term casesystems and its implications for the general theory of case marking'' argues thatthe distinguishing function is certainly not the primary function of casemarking. He shows that in several languages, Like Vafsi, an Iranian language,and Hindi/Urdu and the like, the function of marking specific semantic orpragmatic information is more important.

Dimitry ganenkov, Timur Maisak and Solmaz Merdanova have discussed the rich casesystem of Agul, an East-Caucasian language, in their paper, ''Non-canonical agentmarking in Agul''. They show that in Agul the two locative cases can be viewed asa general means to express low agentivity of an agentive participant.

Chapter nine of this collection is a paper by Yukiko Morimoto entitled ''Fromtopic to subject marking: implication for a typology of subject marking''. Thispaper deals with the conflict between marking the grammatical role and marking aprominence distinction.

Jason brown and Tyler Peterson in their chapter on ''Grammaticalization andstrategies in resolving subject marking paradoxes: the case of Tsimshianic''present two case studies of ergative/nominative paradoxes. These case studiesapproach the issue of grammaticalization and Differential Subject Marking. Theyshow that the reorganization of case and agreement morphology into paradoxeswill be accompanied by a new paradigm of Differential Subject Marking.

In the eleventh chapter, Mark Donohue on ''Different subjects, differentmarkings'' argues that in Tukang Besi, subject marking on the verb followsdifferent paradigms.

In the last paper, Marian Klamer in ''Differential marking of intransitivesubjects in Kambera (Austronesian) presents five different ways in which thesubject of an intransitive clause in Kambera may be cross-referenced on the verbby pronominal clitics. There is no case-marking on noun phrases in Kambera.

EVALUATIONLanguages differ in the type of marking systems they have at their disposal.This collection and the research reported in this study provide an importantstep forwards in our understanding of the complex phenomenon of DifferentialSubject Marking. It evaluates previous work that directly or indirectly dealswith Differential Subject Marking, and it raises some main questions and triesto answer them in different papers. On the whole, the volume opens a newresearch area, providing minimal grounds for its future developments.

REFERENCESAissen, J. (2003). Differential object marking: iconicity vs. economy. _NaturalLanguage and Linguistic Theory_ 21, 435-483.

ABOUT THE REVIWER:Mohammad Rasekh Mahand is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Bu-Ali SinaUniversity, Hamadan, Iran. His research interests include syntax, cognitivelinguistics and typology.