Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 1015–1066 | Cite as

Explaining the structure of case paradigms by the mechanisms of Nanosyntax

The Classical Armenian nominal declension
  • Pavel CahaEmail author


This paper looks in detail at the Classical Armenian nominal declension. I highlight several generalizations that can be read off the surface paradigms, including restrictions on syncretism, fusional vs. agglutinative expression of categories and the emergence of unexpected thematic vowels. Subsequently, I explain these generalizations within the framework of Nanosyntax (Starke 2009, 2011).

The defining features of the account are fine-grained syntactic representation (a single feature per syntactic terminal) and phrasal spell-out. I argue that these two tools allow us to replace a separate level of morphological (paradigm specific) structure by a syntactic tree.


Case Case syncretism Classical Armenian Paradigm Phrasal spell-out Nanosyntax Agglutination Fusion 



A number of people gave me comments and suggestions concerning the material presented here. I started working on the topic as a part of my dissertation-related research, and my supervisor Michal Starke has substantially influenced the initial stage of work. Jonathan Bobaljik and Hilda Koopman (in their capacity as committee members) have left their mark on this work as well, for which I am very grateful. In addition, a very early version of the paper was presented at WOTM 4 in Leipzig (2008), and I thank the audience there for feedback and interesting discussions.

Subsequently, Gillian Ramchand and Peter Svenonius have provided me with detailed comments on a draft of this material as it appeared in Nordlyd (Tromsø working papers in linguistics, 2009). Major changes have occurred in the first draft submitted to NLLT due to the comments from three anonymous reviewers, accompanied by an additional review by the handling NLLT editor, Gereon Müller. For the final round of comments, I am indebted to Marcel den Dikken. A very special thanks to Marina Pantcheva, who has read and commented on all these various versions.

I thank all these people for bringing up empirical challenges, pointing out problems of analysis, finding better ways of putting things, removing typos, correcting my English, and asking some big picture questions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CASTLUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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