David Pesetsky: Russian case morphology and the syntactic categories
In his Russian case morphology and the syntactic categories, David Pesetsky addresses core questions of Case Theory and proposes an entirely new program of research into the grammar of case. The program rests on two pivots: first, one should treat case as a signature property of a given grammatical category rather than its descriptive feature, and, second, one should build the theory of case on the basis of grammars that show a lot of morphological case rather than on those where case morphology has undergone substantial attrition (e.g., Russian and Lardil rather than English and French). In the process of forming his novel approach, Pesetsky was able to cover numerous major topics in the grammar of Russian and solved a number of outstanding problems, including the Paucal Genitive and the Genitive of Quantification. Only a fraction of these problem areas can be touched upon in a brief review.
I insist on using the term “program” with reference to Russian case morphology and the syntactic categories, as I see this publication as a promising beginning of a watertight theory of case. Below, I will try to explore both certain ready-made solutions as well as certain less-welcome consequences of this proposal. Thus I believe that the general idea of this New Program for Case Theory (henceforth NPCT) is a captivating one and set in a truly reductionist spirit, yet its application to many grammatical phenomena in Russian and closely related languages (e.g., Polish) still requires clarification and further development.
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