Màda Double Object Constructions: A Problem for the Case Theory

Published: June 2019

Authors: Samuel, Nuhu Baba &  Izang, Abigail Ambi

About Authors: Department of Languages and Linguistics, Department of English. Nasarawa State University, Keffi

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This paper examines how each of the two argument NPs, in Màda double object constructions (DOC), receive abstract Case in order to prevent a violation of the Case filter. Màda, a Platoid language of the Benue-Congo subfamily, is spoken predominately in Nasarawa State and few adjoining states in the Middle Belt, Nigeria (Kaduna and Plateau States). It has long been observed in the literature that abstract Case could be assigned either structural or inherent derivable at the D-structure or S-structure. In principle, a verb must not only govern its complement but assign abstract Case to it constrained by government and adjacency conditions. However,there are lexically closed verbs that can co-occur with double object NPs without any overt Case marker in Màda. This type of construction violates Case filter. The question we intend to answer here is how abstractCase is assigned to the Caseless NP in a typical Màda double object construction. Our focus in this paper is to show how Case is assigned in Màda and how to address the problem of Case assignment in Màda DOCs within the Principles and Parameters model. In an attempt to solve the problem, we adopt Chomsky’s (1981) Alternative approach and Sanusi’s (2001) Unified approach. Data for this study is elicited through introspection corroborated with insights from competent speakers of Màda. Finding from this study reveals that Màda lacks overt dative marker and dative shift is not allowed in its syntax. The study concludes that double object verbs are shown to reanalyze with their direct objects to form complex predicates, which inherit the Case assigning properties of their main verbs (via GTC) and therefore have the ability to govern and assign abstract Case to the ungoverned NP thereby escaping a major violation of Case filter.

Keywords: Case, Case filter, ditransitive, Double object constructions, Reanalysis, Màda