Dependent case and clitic dissimilation in Yimas
Michelle Yuan
December 2017

Baker (2015) suggests that the dependent theory of case assignment (Yip et al., 1987, Marantz, 1991, among others) is essentially a formulation of the intuition that morphological case functions to differentiate nominals. This paper presents novel evidence for this idea from the verbal agreement system of Yimas. As a radical departure from previous characterizations of the language, this paper argues that the Yimas agreement morphemes are actually doubled pronominal clitics, and that they exhibit paradigmatic alternations that parallel the distributions of lexical, dependent, and unmarked case on nominals cross-linguistically. The core evidence comes from the fact that clitic doubling in Yimas is optional. Once this optionality is taken into account, it is revealed that the morphological form of a given clitic covaries with the total number of clitics present, even when the sentence-level syntax is held constant: how a clitic is ultimately realized is thus dependent on its clitic environment. This context-dependence is analyzed as a dissimilation process, which applies to distinguish between multiple morphosyntactically indistinguishable clitics; this arises whenever multiple DPs are doubled. The link to dependent case comes from the parallel between the distribution of clitic forms and that of dependent case on nominals, in that both can be viewed as controlled by morphosyntactic context, albeit in different structural domains.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003134
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: resubmitted
keywords: dependent case, clitic doubling, yimas, syntax, morphology, dissimilation
previous versions: v2 [September 2016]
v1 [September 2016]
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