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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2006, Vol. 37, No. 2, Pages 289-308
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2006.37.2.289)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Nominative Puzzle and the Low Nominative Hypothesis
Article PDF (160.79 KB)

Under the view of nominative Case taken by Chomsky (2000, 2001), one would expect nominative to be the marked or complex Case, being merged after accusative. In fact, however, it is the other way around, nominative preconditioning accusative and also being the Case of simple structures (unaccusative, etc.). The article argues that this Nominative Puzzle is not real, the nominative argument in fact being the first argument merged, raised across the accusative later in the derivation for independent reasons. This approach not only accounts for the dependency correlation between accusative and nominative (Burzio's Generalization), but also offers a derivational account of Condition A correlations (anaphors being merged higher than their “antecedents”). Importantly, it also makes it possible to explain Icelandic quirky constructions in terms of a general matching theory. In addition, the article develops a novel approach to Move as applying for the purpose of successful feature matching.