Correlations between Case and the D-system and the interpretability of Case


  • Txuss Martin University of Cambridge
  • Ioanna Sitaridou University of Cambridge
  • Wolfram Hinzen ICREA/University Pompeu Fabra



Case, D, Clitics, Reference, Definiteness


A correlation between articles and Case has long been noted based on diachronic evidence. Beyond articles, evidence supports that this correlation extends further to clitics and the determiner system (the D-system) at large. The D-system in turn supports referential functions in grammar and is closely correlated to Person. The aim of the present article is to link support for these facts to the broader foundational question and independent recent theories of the function of Case as governing referential meaning in grammar at the level of clauses. This link is supported by specific evidence from the use of Accusative and Partitive clitics in Romance, which play the same roles strong Accusative vs. weak Partitive Case play in Finnish, which lacks articles, and similar patterns in languages such as Turkish, Russian, and Latin. Case therefore arguably determines the referential function of (pro-) nominals as part of event structures, whether synthetically or else analytically via the left periphery of the NP. This explains the historical links between Case and the D-system, which we further argue evidence from Greek has been incorrectly argued to contravene.


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How to Cite

Martin, T., Sitaridou, I., & Hinzen, W. (2021). Correlations between Case and the D-system and the interpretability of Case. Borealis – An International Journal of Hispanic Linguistics, 10(2), 238–263.



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