Nanosyntactic Analysis of Turkish Case System




turkish, case, nanosyntax, morphology, specificity, containment, morpho-syntax interface


This paper takes two challenging characteristics of the Turkish case system and shows that a nanosyntactic analysis can cover both. The first puzzle is that some cases, namely ACC and GEN, in Turkish show alternations between specific and non-specific forms, while other cases like DAT and INS do not. The second puzzle concerns containment relations in morphology. Caha (2009) proposes that cases stand in a containment relation. In some languages like Estonian, Tocharian, and Vlax Romani, the ACC form serves as the foundation of the oblique cases. The puzzle is that in Turkish, the morphological containment holds only for ACC and GEN, but not for ACC and the other obliques. The comparison leads us to expect that the INS in Turkish could be *adam-ı-la, with the ACC marker to the left of -la. Interestingly, this expectation fails precisely in those cases which do not distinguish specific and non-specific forms. We propose a solution to both of these puzzles within the Nanosyntactic framework. The main idea is that Turkish nouns and cases can be composed of smaller, sub-morphemic features. These features allow specificity information to be encapsulated within the noun itself, rather than the case as previously suggested by Öztürk (2005).