Deconstructing subjecthood
Ethan Poole
October 2016

This paper argues that subjecthood properties manifest on a DP in accordance with an implicational hierarchy, which is paralleled in how high the DP raises in the functional sequence. The empirical motivation comes from a crosslinguistic study of quirky (nonnominative) subjects, which discovers that the crosslinguistic variation in the subjecthood properties exhibited by quirky subjects is constrained by a set of ordered entailments. I propose that subjecthood properties are distributed across different functional heads such that a DP must raise to that position to bear the associated property. The implicational hierarchy results from the requirement that a DP move cyclically through these subjecthood positions. Quirky subjects differ from canonical nominative subjects in that their final landing site may be an intermediate subjecthood position, thereby yielding variation in which subjecthood properties they bear. The empirical and theoretical contributions made in this paper support the view that subjecthood reduces to a purely structural phenomenon.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003197
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: subjecthood, quirky subjects, grammatical functions, case, syntax
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