Non-Nominative Subjects in Russian and Lithuanian: Case, Argument Structure, and Anaphor Binding

by Allison Stacy Germain

Institution: University of Washington
Year: 2018
Keywords: binding; case; Lithuanian; non-nominative; Russian; subjects; Linguistics; Linguistics
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2219036
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/40923


In this dissertation, I aim to provide a comprehensive view of subjects in Russian and Lithuanian that have a morphological case other than nominative. Non-nominative subjects (NNSs) provide a window into the notion of subjecthood because they are lacking in some core subject properties and yet are still considered subjects. While the constructions that have dative, genitive, and accusative subjects seem to vary greatly, I show that they fall into two groups: those that have subjects with inherent case and those that have subjects with structural case. I propose a uniform way to account for how case is assigned in each construction and for the apparent subject movement that they undergo. In a later portion of the dissertation, I report on an investigation into anaphor binding by these subjects that relies on experimental methodology. In Chapter 2, I focus on inherent non-nominative subjects, which in both Russian and Lithuanian are dative Experiencers. I argue that the two kinds of predicates in these languages with dative Experiencer subjects, psychological verbs (e.g. to like, nravitsja in Russian and patikti in Lithuanian) and non-verbal psych predicates (e.g. sorry, zal in Russian and gaila in Lithuanian), have different argument structures. While both datives are specifiers of an Applicative Phrase, the Theme of a psychological verb is the specifier of a vBEP (following Cuervos 2003 proposal for Spanish) and the Theme of a non-verbal psych predicate is the complement to the predicate. In this chapter, I also account for how NNSs seem to undergo subject movement because they appear pre-verbally in discourse neutral contexts. I argue that T can inherit its uninterpretable -features from Rizzis (1997) Fin head separately from the EPP feature via a modification to Feature Inheritance (Chomsky 2008, Richards 2008b) called Split Feature Inheritance. The NNS moves to Spec FinP to check EPP, and the [u] probe on T is free to undergo Agree with any active DP. In Chapter 3, I turn to the remaining constructions, which I argue to have subjects with structural case. In Russian, sentences with an infinitive as the predicate (i.e. Fleishers 2006 Main Clause Infinitivals) have dative subjects. I argue that these are bi-clausal (following Fleisher 2006 and Jung 2008), but that these subjects are assigned dative case by an embedded non-finite Fin head and then raise to the matrix clause. Here, Feature Inheritance has not occurred and Fin still has the [u] feature bundle which agrees with the subject DP. I argue that this is also the source of the dative case assigned to the subjects of adjunct participial clauses in Lithuanian. The subject in these clauses moves to Spec FinP and is assigned dative via Agree with Fin. Contra Arkadiev (2012), I propose that these clauses are tenseless and therefore lack a TP layer. When these participial clauses are embedded under a matrix verb like sakyti say or matyti see, Split Feature Inheritance is triggered and an Aspect head is what inherits [u]. Because this [u] isAdvisors/Committee Members: Citko, Barbara (advisor), Omaki, Akira (advisor).