Unmarked case in Estonian nominals
Mark Norris
March 2017

This paper analyzes a case-marking alternation seen in the standard Estonian numeral-noun construction and pseudopartitive construction (e.g., tükk leiba ‘a piece of bread’). In nominative and accusative contexts, the second noun (N2) is marked with partitive case while the first noun/numeral (N1) is marked with the case of the pseudopartitive. In all other case contexts both nouns must bear the case of the pseudopartitive. I propose that the partitive case on N2 is an unmarked case in the sense of Baker (2015) and Marantz (1991), among others. It is assigned to complements of nouns that do not already have a case value. This derives the case-marking alternation as a matter of timing: nominative and accusative are assigned too late to affect case-marking internal to the pseudopartitive. I show that pseudopartitives are not amenable to an analysis in terms of case-stacking as has been proposed for similar phenomena. The analysis presented here also extends to collocations of numerals and pseudopartitives in Estonian. I also show how the analysis can be extended to account for differences between Finnish and Estonian, and I suggest a typology of pseudopartitive-marking predicted by the analysis I propose. The analysis has implications for case realization and assignment as well as pseudopartitive and DP structure.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003351
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Accepted at NLLT
keywords: case, morphology, syntax, pseudopartitives, numerals, estonian, morphology, syntax
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