This week in Fieldwork Lab Eszter Ótott-Kovács, PhD candidate at Cornell University, will be presenting her work “Genitive-Nominative Case Alternation in the Nominal Domain in Kazakh”. Fieldwork lab meets Thursday at 4pm. Contact Carol Rose Little if you would like to attend.


It is well-known that Turkic languages have Differential Object Marking, where the specific (presuppositional) direct object is marked with the accusative, while the non-specific object is unmarked for case/nominative (Enç 1991, Diesing 1992, Kelepir 2001). Relying on (mostly) Turkish data, it has been assumed that specificity drives the genitive-nominative case “alternation” in a similar manner to DOM (Kornfilt 2009, a.o.).

The talk explores the genitive-nominative “alternation” in Kazakh (Turkic), found (1) on the possessor in possessive constructions, on the subjects of (2) nominalized argument clauses and (3) relative clauses, based on novel data elicited by the author. I show that, in contrast to DOM, genitive-nominative alternation is not solely driven by specificity in this language. The genitive-nominative alternation on the possessor and the relative clause subject follows the pattern described for Turkish in terms of specificity. However, the genitive-nominative alternation on the argument clause subject is determined by the anaphoricity of the subject DP: genitive is marked on anaphoric DP subjects, nominative is used otherwise (in the case of unique definite or indefinite subjects).