Case Theory and Case Alternations: Evidence from Lithuanian
This article examines accusative-instrumental case alternations in Lithuanian, which is limited to four semantic classes of verbs: verbs of throwing, verbs of moving body parts, verbs of making sound and verbs of dressing/wearing clothing. Traditional grammars (e.g. Ambrazas 2006) have claimed that there is no semantic difference between the two cases in these contexts, but I will show that there is such a difference, albeit a subtle one. This allows us to understand why this alternation is possible: there is a difference in event structure, resulting in a different interpretation of the argument. When the argument is affected, or changed, accusative is used, and when it is peripheral to the event, the instrumental is used. This has implications for Case Theory, which aims to explain Case licensing in structural terms. I will argue that if a different morphological case is licensed, there is a difference in structure. By expanding the vP into multiple heads representing the subevents of a single event, we can reduce the accusative/instrumental alternation to a difference in structure.
Keywords: Case theory, instrumental case, event structure, case alternations