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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2015, Vol. 46, No. 2, Pages 187-242
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00180)
© 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Radical Defectivity: Implications of Xhosa Expletive Constructions
Article PDF (1.62 MB)

In Xhosa VSO clauses, subject agreement exhibits default features, objects cannot be pronominalized, a subject focus reading is obligatory, and experiencer verbs with two DP arguments are precluded. We argue that impoverished versions of T and v* in VSO clauses lack the probe features involved in subject agreement, EPP, object shift, and nominative/accusative valuation within Xhosa SVO sentences. Only an unusual focus-linked strategy can Case-license full DPs in VSO clauses, but this is incompatible with inherent Cases borne by arguments of experiencer verbs. We show that CPs and augmentless NPs appear in positions where DPs cannot surface because uCase is a feature of D. Given the striking evidence for abstract Case in Xhosa, we propose Case-friendly analyses for Bantu Case-theoretic anomalies that Xhosa shares.