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.