Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

A Minimalist Account of Structural Case Assignment in Pashto Conjoined Subject Constructions

Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

A Minimalist Account of Structural Case Assignment in Pashto Conjoined Subject Constructions

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Varied morphological forms of nouns and pronouns, with reference to their placement in a sentence, have always attracted grammarians/syntacticians. Thus, as the number of grammars increased, the number of approaches to study case also increased. In the generative enterprise, this interest crystalized in the shape of case theory/module of the government and binding (GB) era. In GB, the concentration was largely on structural Case1 and Case assignment, the former dealing with the Case of a nominal with reference to its position in a sentence and the later dealing with the agency that is responsible for giving this Case to a nominal. Minimalist program went a step ahead as it tried to find the why of Case. With this background in mind, conjoined subjects pose a more challenging situation as here we have two or more than two nouns or pronouns at one place and all these nouns or pronouns need structural Case from a single functional head. Added to this has been the unique nature of Pashto conjoined subjects that are joined by the conjunction ao 'and'. Here, the verb neither agrees with the first conjunct nor does it agree with the last conjunct; rather, it agrees with the joint effect of the two conjuncts.

To deal with this situation this paper proposes that the two parts of a conjoined subject act as a single syntactic unit. This postulation has consequences. Instead of each of the two nomináis having [uCase] feature, we propose that the two parts of the conjoined subject collectively bear the [uCase] feature. We also propose that both of the two nomináis have the same structural Case. In addition, we propose that the two nomináis jointly move from spec uP to spec TP as a unit. Taking all these points into consideration, this paper for the first time proposes structures/ derivations for Pashto ao conjunction conjoined subject constructions in the three tenses of present, past, and future; as structural Case assignment cannot be dealt with comprehensively unless the derivation/structure of a construction is not established. For structural Case assignment this paper proposes that nominative Case in Pashto conjoined subject sentences is assigned as a result of ([»-features agreement between T and the relevant nominal, while accusative Case is assigned as a result of ({»-features agreement between the relevant nominal and u or Voice, depending on the tense of the sentence. In addition, in the morphological component, we propose that agreement for nominative Case assignment in Pashto ao conjoined subject constructions between T and the relevant nominal is visible while agreement for accusative Case assignment between v or Voice and the relevant nominal is invisible.

This paper is organized as follows. Section 1 introduces the topic and gives a brief idea of the issues that will be discussed in the paper. Section 2 gives a thumbnail sketch of the efforts that were made in the traditional grammar and the generative enterprise especially the minimalist program with reference to structural Case assignment and conjoined subject constructions. Section 3 gives some idea of conjoined subjects, with more emphasis on ao conjoined subjects, and the mechanism that we will adopt to deal with structural Case assignment in Pashto ao conjoined subject constructions. Sections 4, 5, and 6 deal with structural Case assignment in Pashto ao conjoined subject constructions in the three tenses of present, past and future. Section 7 concludes this paper.

2. Literature Review

In the minimalist era, conjoined subject constructions have attracted a lot of attention. However, this is mostly with reference to agreement, not structural Case assignment. Moreover, their accounts are concentrated on single conjunct agreement, a phenomenon that has been found across many unrelated languages, for example Arabic (Aoun et al. 1994, Al-Balushi, 2011), Slovenian (Marusic, Navins, & Saksida, 2007), Serbo - Croatian (Boskovic, 2009, 2010), and Hindi (Benmamoun et al. …

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