Ossetic as a language with a two-case system: Suspended affixation and other paradoxes of case marking.

2014. №6, 31-65

Oleg I. Belyaev
Institute of linguistics (RAS) / Sholokhov Moscow state university for the humanities, Moscow / Russia; obelyaev@gmail.com


This article deals with several problematic instances of case marking in Ossetic: suspended affixation, case government of the preposition ɜnɜ ‘without’, differential object marking, the distribution of the forms of Iron kɜrɜzi ‘each other’ in the functions of direct object and possessor. I show that the assignment of case in these constructions is determined by the structure of the paradigm of the dependent lexeme. The distribution of different wordforms in these syntactic environments is explained by decomposing case in Ossetic into two categories: “morphological case” (m-case), assigned to wordforms, which has only two values, direct and oblique, and “group case” (g-case), assigned to NPs, which includes all the oblique case values distinguished for Ossetic. M-case corresponds to case in languages which do not allow suspended affixation, such as Russian and Latin, while g-case corresponds to case categories in languages that do have suspended affixation, such as Turkic. The coexistence of these two categories within a single language may imply that they should also be distinguished in typological perspective. The data of Ossetic are compared to similar phenomena in other languages: Eastern Armenian, Indo-Aryan, Kalmyk, and Tocharian A. The analysis is formalized in terms of Lexical Functional Grammar.