This paper examines the case of objects of infinitival complements in Lithuanian. It turns out that there is a surprising range of possibilities. As expected, direct objects, as in (1), are normally assigned accusative for all verb forms, finite or otherwise.
(1) Jie stengiasi [taisyti kelia].
'They are trying to repair the road.'
In addition, there are verbs that, as a lexical idiosyncrasy, select some other (quirky) oblique case on their objects (e.g.,
There are three relevant phenomena to be considered, given in (2–4) below. These are (i) genitive objects, which appear with purpose clause infinitives following verbs of motion; (ii) dative objects, which appear with other types of purpose clauses; and (iii) nominative objects, which arise with psych verbs (experiencer predicates).
(2) Ishvazhiavo [kelio taisyti].
'They went to repair the road.'
(3) Pastate darzhine [shienui sukrauti].
'They built a hay–loft to keep hay.'
(4) Jam nepatiko [laukelis arti].
'He didn't like to plough the field.'
[Ambrazas 1997:557; 638]
The genitive governed by infinitives with verbs of motion (as in (2)) is a remnant of the old supine (originally a
The dative (in (3)), instead of the expected accusative, occurs in other infinitival purpose clauses. We propose that this dative object arises in the same way that dative subjects do, by virtue of infinitival –
Nominative objects (as in (4)) occur with infinitival complements to psych verbs, where the matrix "subject" experiencer is dative. Here again, the object appears to be treated like a subject, shifting to the left of the infinitive to produce the OV order. Our analysis of this construction involves the entire infinitival clause being treated as the subject of the finite dative experiencer clause (yielding something like "[The field to plough] to him does not appeal.").
In conclusion, we examine four superficially similar constructions, arguing that in Lithuanian there are competing strategies for assigning case to the object of infinitival complements depending on underlying structure. Thus, rather than claim that the verb can canonically assign four different cases, it can, as in other languages, assign just one (the accusative), with hidden structures involved to handle the deviations from simple accusative objects. The language is unusual, however, is assigning case to direct objects using mechanisms ordinarily relegated only to subjects.
Ambrazas, Vytautas. (1997). Lithuanian Grammar. Vilnius: Baltos Lankos.
Babby, Leonard. (1998). "Subject control as direct predication: Evidence from Russian." In FASL 6: The UConn Meeting, ed. Zheljko Boshkovic Steven Franks, and William Snyder. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 17–37.
Lavine, James. 2000. Topics in the Syntax of Nonagreeing Predicates in Slavic. Ph.D. Dissertation. Princeton University.