Exceptional Case Marking in Czech

Charles Mills, University of Washington

Slavic languages are generally considered to lack Exceptional Case Marking (Lasnik 1998). In fact, Czech, Slovak, and Slovene (1. a-c) do possess constructions which display all the signature syntactic features of ECM.

(1) a. Spat&rhachek;il jsem ho vystupovat z vlaku. (Grepl et al 1995)
'I saw him getting off the train.'
b. Po&chachekcz;ul som psa vyt'. (Brecht 1974)
'I heard the dog howling.'
c. Janeza sem videl delati. (Brecht 1974)
'I saw Janez working.'

Recent analyses within the Minimalist framework (Boskovic 1997, Lasnik and Saito 1991) propose the movement of the embedded thematic ECM subject into the higher matrix clause to satisfy Case checking. Such an analysis is attractive since it allows for a unified account of Case checking based on core X'-theoretic relations rather than on arbitrary geometric notions like government. The present paper, however, argues against the raising hypothesis on the evidence of Czech clitic behavior. Czech clitic phenomena -- data heretofore having escaped description -- demonstrate the final lower-clause status of the ECM thematic subject. In particular, the principles of Czech Clitic Raising (CR), Clitic Ordering (CO), and No Clitic Stranding (NCS) intersect to yield grammatical results only when the ECM thematic subject remains in the lower clause. This paper reevaluates arguments from Boskovic (1997) and Lasnik and Saito (1991) for NP's raising to matrix AGRoP, and maintains the controversial conclusion that infinitival complement clauses are in fact either CPs or IPs, contra Pesetsky (1982) and Boskovic (1996).


Boskovic, Zeljko. 1996. Selection and the categorial status of infinitival complements. NLLT 14:269-304.

Boskovic, Zeljko. 1997. The Syntax of Nonfinite Complementation: An Economy Approach. MIT Press.

Brecht, Richard. 1974. Tense and infinitive complements in Russian, Latin and English. In: Slavic Transformational Syntax, ed. Richard Brecht and Catherine Chvany, 193-218. University of Michigan.

Grepl, Miroslav et al. 1995. Priruchni mluvnice cheshtiny. Nakladatelstvi Lidove noviny.

Lasnik, Howard. 1998. Exceptional case marking: perspectives new and old. In: FASL 6:187-211. Michigan Slavic Publications.

Lasnik, Howard and Mamoru Saito. 1991. On the subject of infinitives. CLS 27:324-343. University of Chicago.

Pesetsky, David. 1982. Paths and categories. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.