James E. Lavine

Mood and a transitivity restriction in Lithuanian: The case of the inferential evidential

The Inferential Evidential reports events not directly observed by the speaker. Evidentiality in Lithuanian is encoded by means of a non-finite main clause predication enforced by a modal head that selects a non-finite TP, similar to the neutralization of tense distinctions in other marked moods. Non-finite, non-agreeing T fails to assign nominative to the subject. In the Inferential Evidential, a voice head, below T, hosts a vestigial passive morpheme, serving as a source for oblique subject case, while stripping the predicate of its transitivity property. So while the predicate’s valency is not altered, its accusative case-assigning potential is. This results in an oblique subject — nominative object construction, the morphosyntax of which is elucidated in a theory of case involving the key features of voice, cause, and default object case. An analysis is presented for default nominative on the object, which has the added benefit of accounting for variation in speaker judgments concerning the acceptability of the nominative object and the preference for Inferential Evidential forms based on intransitive predicates.

Keywords: Inferential Evidential, non-finite Tense, Case and Agreement, v-voice, v-cause, voice-bundling, transitivity restriction, default case