Dissertation Defense: Šereikaitė

"Voice and Case Phenomena in Lithuanian morphosyntax"
Apr 16, 2020 at - | Event will be Virtual due to the Coronavirus restrictions.


Milena Šereikaitė is pleased to announce that she will be defending her dissertation entitled "Voice and Case Phenomena in Lithuanian morphosyntax" on Thursday, April 16th at 3:30pm EDT. The defense is open to the public and will be held on Zoom.  Her dissertation can be found here

More information and the abstract are below. 


Supervisor: Julie Anne Legate

Committee: David Embick, Heidi Harley, Florian Schwarz

Date & Time: Thursday, April 16th, 3:30pm


Voice and Case Phenomena in Lithuanian morphosyntax


In this dissertation, I explore the relationship between Voice, case and subjecthood through the lens of Lithuanian, a Baltic language. Chapter 2 provides evidence from the active existential construction showing that the structural accusative case can be assigned in the absence of a higher c-commanding nominal.This finding counterexemplifies Burzio's (1986) Generalization and related theories such as Dependent Case Theory (Marantz 1991, McFadden 2004, Preminger 2014, i.a.). I demonstrate that accusative case assignment is a property of a functional head independent of the projection of a specifier, and propose a new flavor of active Voice, one that assigns accusative case and yet semantically introduces the initiator as existentially bound. Chapter 3 challenges structural vs. non-structural dichotomy (Chomsky 1981, 1986; Woolford 2006; i.a.) by identifying a type of case, namely marked structural, that falls between these categories depending on the syntactic environment it is realized in.  Marked structural case is an intermediate step between structural and non-structural case. Like structural case, this case is assigned by a thematic Voice head. Like non-structural case, the assignment of marked structural case is obligatory, independent of the featural makeup of Voice (passive vs. active). Chapter 4 demonstrates that non-nominative subjects can vary in terms of their case assignment and do not constitute a homogeneous class in the language. The genitive subject of the evidential construction behaves like a canonical nominative subject and is assigned structural case by a functional head. In contrast, the dative subject of lack-class predicates shows only a subset of subjecthood properties and its case is non-structural assigned by a lexical verb. The contrast between the two non-nominative subjects provides independent evidence for the separation of syntactic case from its morphological form (Vergnaud 1977; Chomsky 1981, 1995; Legate 2008). Overall, this dissertation provides new empirical discoveries with consequences both for how case is assigned and the range of possible types of cases.