Case licensing and VP structure

Date of Completion

January 1999


Language, Linguistics




In this thesis, I investigate where the Nominative Case of a DP is licensed in Japanese. It has been argued that Nominative Case is licensed only in the Spec of functional projections, such as TP/AgrP (Koizumi 1995). I argue that Nominative Case can be licensed by certain kinds of verbs/affixes within their local domain in Japanese. I propose that Case licensing takes place when a DP and a Case-licenser are in a local relation, such as Spec-Head or Head-Complement. I use the binding and scope relations, and VP-preposing to show the structural relation between Nominative phrase and another element in a structure, and what kind of structural position the Nominative phrase occupies. ^ In Chapter 2, I argue that Nominative Case is licensed by the unaccusative verbs in Japanese. The evidence for this claim comes from the scope relation between the Nominative and Locative phrases in the unaccusative and passive constructions. The difference between these constructions leads us to conclude that the Nominative phrase in the passive construction raises overtly over the Locative phrase, whereas that in the unaccusative construction does not. ^ In Chapter 3, I argue that Nominative Case of an object is licensed by the stative verbs/affixes (Kuno 1973). The evidence comes from the VP-preposing construction and the scope relation between the subject and the object. ^ In Chapter 4, I show that subjects of unergative and transitive verbs raise to the Spec of TP overtly. I further propose that there is only one position for the subject oriented depictive secondary predicate. ^ In Chapter 5, I discuss the structure within VP in Japanese, arguing that there is evidence for the Split-VP hypothesis proposed by Koizumi (1995), Lasnik (1995), Bobaljik (1996) among others. I also give additional evidence for a classic claim that the indirect objects are always base-generated higher than the direct objects, using the VP-preposing construction. ^ In Chapter 6, I show that there is covert raising of the Nominative phrase of the unaccusative construction in Japanese. I argue that this is due to the weak EPP feature in T in Japanese. ^