The Default Case in Standard Arabic

Mansour Alotaibi


The default Case is a common phenomenon in Universal Grammar (UG). There are some languages which require that all Noun Phrases have Case. For these languages default Case meets something that has become known as the Case Filter (Rouveret and Vergnaud 1980). This is to say, if a particular Noun Phrase is not assigned a Case in association with some specification in some other part of the grammar, then default Case assignment principle can apply. Typical cross-linguistic default Cases are Nominative or Genitive, though the value of the default Case can vary from one language to another. While the default Case in English is accusative, it is nominative in most languages. The default mechanism which assigns this value is only invoked when the structural mechanism is not applicable. This paper argues, by citing multiple cross-linguistic examples, that assumption of a default Case in a language accounts for a better understanding of its syntactic and morphological structure. Based on Schütze’s (2001) proposal for English, it develops a theory to account for the default Case in Standard Arabic (SA). It argues that nominal expressions in SA do not receive nominative Case by assignment of other syntactic means. As such, its mechanism does not interact with the Case Filter, which is assumed to be a syntactic constraint. This paper shows that diverse phenomena in the distribution of nominative nominal expressions in SA can be treated using default Case. Previous studies have ample evidence that such phenomena from other languages have proved that instances for default Case are common, and furthermore, that there are opportunities within the Case framework to reduce the cross-linguistic differences in Case patterns in the event of choosing a default Case. 

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Copyright (c) 2020 Mansour Qazan Alotaibi

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