Carstens | Linguistic Inquiry

Vicki Carstens’s article “Nguni bare nouns: licensing without Case” has just appeared online ahead of its print publication in Linguistic Inquiry. Congratulations, Vicki!

Abstract: Nguni bare or augmentless([–A]) nominals are licit only as strict negative dependents and wh-words. They may not appear in a preverbal subject position unless local to a negation-licensed [–A] complementizer of a subjunctive clause (Pietraszko 2021). This pattern motivates an analysis in terms of negative concord and a labeling theory approach to the Extended Projection Principle (EPP) (Chomsky 2013): [–A] nouns have uninterpretable negation features that thwart agreement and labeling in [XP, YP] configurations (see also Bošković 2019, 2020 on uninterpretable features and labeling problems) unless valued by interpretable negation in a syntactic Agree relation (Zeijlstra 2008, Haegeman and Lohndal 2010, Penka 2011). A cluster of further distributional restrictions on [–A] nominals are predictable from an independently motivated Nguni clausal topography of focus (Carstens and Mletshe 2016), eliminating any role for abstract Case in explaining the facts, contra Halpert 2015 and Pietraszko 2021. The analysis is inspired by and extends to parallel restrictions in Romance languages previously attributed to the Empty Category Principle and the EPP (Contreras 1986, Longobardi 1994, Déprez 2000, Landau 2007).