Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 447–498 | Cite as

Successive-cyclic case assignment: Korean nominative-nominative case-stacking

  • Theodore Levin


In recent literature, a debate has arisen between two theories of the calculation and realization of morphological case. The more commonly held Agree model states that all case features are assigned to nominals by nearby functional heads. Given a designated case-assigning functional head F, and a nominal α that is c-commanded by F, the case-marking associated with F will be assigned to α (Chomsky 2000, 2001). An alternative view, the Dependent Case model, holds that case is assigned to nominals given their structural relationship to one another. The case a nominal bears is dependent on the presence of other nominals within a defined domain (e.g. Yip et al. 1987; Marantz 1991; Bittner and Hale 1996). In this paper, I bring the phenomenon of Korean nominative-nominative case-stacking to bear on the current debate over Agree versus Dependent Case models. I argue that nominative-nominative stacking is incompatible with an Agree model of case-assignment. However, an emended Dependent Case model is well-suited to capture nominative-nominative case-stacking.


Case stacking Case alternation Dependent case Agree Movement Korean 



I am grateful to Mark Baker, Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, Shigeru Miyagawa, David Pesetsky, Maria Polinsky, Omer Preminger, Norvin Richards, Coppe van Urk, and Suyeon Yun, to audiences at Japanese/Korean Linguistics 22 and at the 2013 annual meeting of the Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL9), and to three anonymous reviewers, for helpful discussion and comments. All errors are my own.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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