Abstract and Keywords
On the basis of the study of split ergativity in Georgian, this chapter defends a simple principle according to which the difference between a nominative and an ergative behaviour of the same language, and possibly across languages, consists in the capacity of the transitive subject to be theta-licensed, and by consequence case-licensed, in a position outside vP only in the nominative type. An outcome of this difference is that the transitive subject in ergative languages is licensed in vP, which is also the minimal domain containing the direct object. As both arguments of the transitive verb stay in vP, they are case-licensed by the same c-commanding functional head, according to the mechanism of Dependent Case (DC) assignment as originally proposed by Marantz (1991). The reason why one functional head marks two arguments in a language is due to the functional impoverishment between T and vP.
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