Case in Sakha: Are two modalities really necessary?

Theodore Levin and Omer Preminger

Baker and Vinokurova (2010) argue that the distribution of morphologically observable case in Sakha (Turkic) requires a hybrid account, which involves recourse both to configurational rules of case assignment (Bittner and Hale 1996; Marantz 1991; Yip et al. 1987), and to case assignment by functional heads (Chomsky 2000, 2001). In this paper, we argue that this conclusion is under-motivated, and present an alternative account of case in Sakha that is entirely configurational. The central innovation lies in abandoning Chomsky’s (2000, 2001) assumptions regarding the interaction of case and agreement, and replacing them with Bobaljik’s (2008) and Preminger’s (2011) independently motivated alternative, nullifying the need to appeal to case assignment by functional heads in accounting for the Sakha facts.