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The Urdu Case system
Khan, Baber Sultan Ali
Doctoral Committee Chair(s)
Morgan, Jerry L.
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The dissertation analyses the complex Case system of Urdu within the framework of Government and Binding (GB) theory. It concentrates both on the word order and the phrase structure order of the language and on the assignment of various Cases to subject NPs in Urdu.
The flexible word order of Urdu has previously been explained in terms of typological features and frequency count methods. Chapter two of this study argues for an SOV order in terms of a directionality parameter associated with the Case and Theta theories. A leftward directionality of Case and $\theta$-role assignment in Urdu accounts for the head final character of the language. The principle of Case adjacency accounts for the obligatory occurrence of a postposition with the indirect object and explains why direct object remains adjacent to the verb.
The GB theory assumes Verb-raising rule to be part of the Universal Grammar. However, in Urdu, such a rule will produce an incorrect surface word order due to the assumed order of the phrase structures. Chapter three demonstates that an alternative analysis, viz. INFL-lowering, not only allows the correct word order but also explains the verb-agreement facts in Urdu.
The final chapter provides further evidence for the INFL-lowering rule and explains how nominative, ergative, dative, and instrumental Cases are assigned to subject NPs. It is argued that perfective morphology absorbs accusative Case. Similarly, dative and unaccusative verbs are incapable of assigning Case to their internal arguments. This invokes INFL-lowering which assigns nominative Case to internal argument but the external argument is consequently left Caseless. A postposition-insertion rule is, thus, required which inserts an appropriate postposition in front of the subject NP to assign it the necessary Case.