This is a collection of downloadable versions of (most of) my publications as well as handouts/slides from a selection of presentations, and documents relating to research tools I have (co-)developed, organized reverse chronologically.


McFadden, Thomas. 2020. In Agree to Agree: Agreement in the Minimalist Programme, ed. Peter W. Smith, Johannes Mursell and Katharina Hartmann. Berlin: Language Science Press, 391-424-

In this paper I examine allocutive agreement in Tamil, a phenomenon in which an agreement suffix attached to the verb or other clause-final element indexes fea- tures not of any argument, but of the addressee of the speech act. I report in detail on the morphophonology, syntactic distribution and discourse use of this agree- ment, supplementing the basic facts reported by Amritavalli (1991) with several ad- ditional crucial details, and compare the Tamil data with what has been reported for other languages, especially Basque and Japanese. I then discuss the consequences of Tamil allocutive agreement for the theoretical treatment of how discourse infor- mation interacts with the morphosyntax, leading to a preliminary analysis of the patterns I find. The Tamil data presented in the paper provide interesting insights into the structural representation of the addressee and into how allocutive agree- ment is derived, in particular from how the relevant suffix is ordered relative to other verbal material.


McFadden, Thomas. 2020. In The Cambridge Handbook of Germanic Linguistics, ed. Richard Page and Michael Putnam. Cambridege: Cambridge University Press, 282-312.

The Germanic languages provide an extremely interesting backdrop for a discussion of case phenomena, shedding light on the interactions between morphology, syntax and semantics, as well as a number of diachronic issues. Indeed, Gmc languages have played a central role in the development of theoretical treatments of case, espe- cially within the (broadly) generative tradition. The oldest attested members of the family, and in particular what we can reconstruct as Proto-Germanic, were highly inflecting languages with rich systems of morphological case. Within their recorded histories, however, all of the Gmc languages have reduced the extent to which cases are distinguished morphologically, though with significant differences in the details of how much has been lost and when. This has led to a contemporary situation where some members of the family (especially Icelandic) have retained most of the older distinctions, others (e.g., German) have retained the basic category distinctions but heavily restricted the ways in which they are expressed, and still others (English, Dutch, Afrikaans, and most of the mainland Scandinavian varieties) have reduced morphological case to a few vestiges in the pronominal system. This means that any treatment of case in Gmc must be comparative and historical, but also that the family can provide interesting opportunities for developing and testing theories of how the properties of morphological case systems might interact with other characteristics of a language. This article attempts to provide a concise overview of the facts and of how they have figured in broader theoretical discussions.


McFadden, Thomas, Sandhya Sundaresan and Hedde Zeijlstra. 2019. Poster presented at GLOW 42, Oslo.

Adjuncts show a complex profile of opacity for syntactic dependencies that is far more interesting than is suggested by the common assumption that they are islands. While they are generally opaque for extraction and, they are transparent for OC, and at least in English do allow A'-bar movement under circumstances characterized by Truswell (2011)'s Single Event Condition. On the other hand, While a number of languages display long-distance agreement where a target in a host clause agrees with a controller in a complement clause, we are aware of no language displaying an analogous pattern where the controller is embedded within an adjunct. Adopting the idea that adjuncts select their hosts, we account for the observed patterns of selective opacity with adjuncts by exploring the proposal that syntactic dependencies are restrictied to follow paths defined by selection.


McFadden, Thomas and Sandhya Sundaresan. 2018. The Linguistic Review 35:463-518.

Abstract: The goal of this paper is to provide novel theoretical and empirical evidence that the null subjects traditionally labelled as pro and PRO, rather than being inherently distinct, are manifestations, differentiated in the course of the derivation, of what is underlyingly a single underspecified nominal pro-form, which we will call UPro. Included under this UPro are pro, OC PRO and also the various types of 'non-obligatory control' (NOC) PRO, including arbitrary PRO (PRO_arb). The interpretive and distributional distinctions lurking behind these labels result from how UPro interacts with its structural environment and language-specific rules of morpho-phonological realization. Specifically, OC PRO labels a rather specific interpretation that arises in embedding contexts where a syntactic OC relationship with an antecedent can be established. Different types of pro and NOC PRO, on the other hand, involve 'control' by (typically) silent representations of discourse-contextual elements in the clausal left periphery. Finally, PRO_arb arguably involves the failure to establish a referential dependence, which we will formalize in terms of a failure to Agree in the sense of Preminger (2014). Crucial evidence motiv- ating the approach proposed here will be adduced from Sundaresan’s (2014) "Finiteness pro-drop Generalisation", which reveals an otherwise unexpected complementarity of OC PRO and pro.

Keywords: pro, PRO, control, OC, NOC, finiteness, case, agree, left periphery


McFadden, Thomas. 2018. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 3(1), 8.

Abstract: In this paper I examine patterns of irregular allomorphy in nominal stems sensitive to case in a number of nominative-accusative languages. I will argue that the data surveyed reveal a certain regularity in the distribution of irregularity across the cases in that they conform to what I call the Nominative Stem-Allomorphy Generalization. One irregular stem form is always found in the nominative (and in other cases that may be systematically syncretic with it), with all other cases sharing a single other stem form. I will show that this subsumes a clear instance of a *ABA pattern, and in fact is even more restrictive, as it also shows *ABC and (qualified) *AAB. I will situate these findings relative to recent work on *ABA patterns and on case-sensitive irregularity in noun and pronoun suppletion, and then will build on that prior work to propose an account for the generalization in terms of a structured representation of nouns and case categories interacting with locality conditions on allomorphy.

Keywords: stem alternations; allomorphy; case; nominative; *ABA


McFadden, Thomas and Sandhya Sundaresan. 2018. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 3(1), 43.

Abstract: We focus here on the "classic" EPP, the requirement that certain subject positions be filled, and argue that characterizing it in terms of a syntactic movement-triggering feature is misguided. Specifically, we argue that, contrary to standard assumptions but along the lines of some recent proposals, the factors conditioning the EPP are actually not syntactic, but phonological. Nonetheless, the operations that it seems to trigger clearly are syntactic. Under common assumptions about the architecture of the grammar, the EPP thus seems to involve a violation of modularity or strict cyclicity. A novel approach to the EPP is thus required, which must simultaneously be able to handle its unique properties but must also be made to fit in with the broader grammatical architecture. We will argue that such an approach will not only allow a more satisfactory account of the EPP itself, but can also yield a unification with the comp-trace effect and yield insight into how both of these interact with pro-drop.

Keywords: EPP; (anti-)that-trace effect; pro-drop; complementizers; prosody; phases; phasal domain; spellout; intonation phrase; syntax-PF interface


McFadden, Thomas. 2018. Talk presented at workshop On the Place of Case in Grammar, Rethymno.

The basic descriptive distinction between structural and inherent case has been established for some time, but we still have no satisfactory unified theory of the distinction that can explain even the most central facts — e.g. why inherent case takes precedence over structural case, or why verbs which assign an inherent case to a higher argument typically assign structural nominative to a lower argument, rather than accusative. Here I address these questions by proposing a synthesis of two competing approaches to case: the KP approach of Caha (2009) etc. is correct for inherent case, while the m-case approach of McFadden (2004) etc. is correct for structural case. Specifically, inherent cases spell out syntactic structures along the lines of Caha. The nominal phrases bearing them are not just DPs but larger KPs of various sizes, as regulated by the narrow syntax. On the other hand, the structural cases are determined on the PF branch for nominal phrases that, in the narrow syntax, are just DPs. This framework allows a principled account of the split between structural and inherent case that captures the differences in their behavior. An important challenge for this approach, considered here in detail, is drawing the line between structural and inherent case and dealing with phenomena that seem to straddle it. I also argue that the synthesis offers a productive basis to address a number of classic comparative and diachronic questions about case.


McFadden, Thomas and Sandhya Sundaresan. 2018. Poster presented at CGSW 33, Göttingen.

We can identify 3 distinct types of C-domain agreement, downward complementizer agreement with the subject of the embedded clause (West Germanic), upward complementizer agreement with the subject of the matrix clause (Bantu) and allocutive agreement with the addressee of the speech act (Basque, Japanese, Tamil). Simple theories are available for each of the three phenomena that derive them from a simple general conception of agreement without construction-specific stipulations, but they are mutually incompatible. We develop a proposal to account for them jointly based on two observations: 1) upward and downward complementizer agreement are limited to embedded clauses while allocutive agreement is an embedded root phenomenon 2) upward and downward complementizer agreement operate at differennt heights in the clausal periphery.


The ZAS-PB3 Database Team. 2018.

This is the detailed users guide for the ZAS Database of Clause-Embedding Predicates, published on the OWID-plus platform. We're quite proud of it and especially of the database. You should check them out.


McFadden, Thomas. 2017. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 49:159-175.

Abstract: Previous work on auxiliary selecion in the history of English has revealed that perfect-like constructions in earlier stages were quite distinct from those in the modern language, and furthermore that important changes in the construction with HAVE around 1350 rendered it quite distinct semantically and syntactically from the one with BE. While this led to a marked expansion of perfects with HAVE, it did not effect a decrease in those with be, which remained quite stable up to around 1700. The current paper presents research based on recently available corpus data, exploring what happened in the period after 1700, when the construction with BE finally began to recede. The most straightforward finding is that the inflection point of this change can be dated to around the year 1800. Evidence is presented showing that, contrary to appearances, the loss of BE does not seem to be related to increasing lexical restrictions on the construction. Finally, the mechanics of the change and its relevance for the syntactic distribution of participles are discussed, along with arguments that what underlies the loss of the be perfect is actually a restriction on the kinds of VPs that can build stative-resultative participial structures in the language.

Keywords: auxiliary selection; history of English; participles; resultatives


Sundaresan, Sandhya and Thomas McFadden. 2017. In The verbal domain, ed. Roberta D'Alessandro, Irene Franco and Ángel Gallego, 153-178. Oxford: OUP

Abstract: This chapter contributes to the ongoing discussion of the proper analysis of the clausal region immediately above the verb, arguing that we need to recognize not just one or two functional heads, but a full layer of structure corresponding to Kratzer’s (1995) Voice or Chomsky’s (1995) v. This layer should include at least four functional heads arrayed above the root, as in (1):

(1) Pass(ive) > Mid(dle) > Voice > v_cause > Root

The primary evidence for this proposal comes from the Dravidian language Tamil, which is extremely informative due to its highly inflecting, agglutinative nature, and its flexibility in combining together distinct elements traditionally subsumed under the heading of 'voice.' Employing standard Mirror Principle reasoning, we can use the rigidly ordered sequences of verbal suffixes that the language supplies to argue for a specific hierarchy of syntactic heads.


Meyer, Peter and Thomas McFadden. 2017. Proceedings of eLex 2017, 495-512.

Abstract: We introduce a recently published corpus-based database of German clause-embedding predicates and present an innovative web application for exploring it. The application displays the predicates and the corpus examples for these predicates in two separate tables that can be browsed and searched in real time. While familiar web interface paradigms make it easy for users to get started, the data presentation and the interactive advanced search components for the two tables are designed to accomodate remarkably complex query needs without the need for resorting to a dedicated query language or a more specialized tool. The 1:n relationship between predicates and their examples is exploited in the two tables in that, e.g. the predicate table also shows, for each predicate and each example attribute, all values that occur in the examples for this predicate. An easy-to-use visual query builder for arbitrary Boolean combinations of search criteria can optionally be displayed to pre-filter the underlying data presented in both tables. Several options for altering quantifier scope can be activated with simple checkboxes and considerably widen the space of searchable constellations.

Keywords: user interface; lexical data; query building; relational database 


McFadden, Thomas. 2016. Talk presented at Generative Grammatik des Südens, Leipzig.

In standard Phase theory, locality effects are achieved by periodically removing pieces of structure -- phase domains -- from the purview of the narrow syntax and sending them to the interfaces. Regions that behave as though they are non-local to each other are thus prevented from being simultaneously present, deriving the fact that they cannot interact with each other. The ability of certain operations like long-distance wh-movement to circumvent strict locality under the right circumstances is modeled by having certain regions -- phase edges -- share derivational time with two distinct domains. It is thus possible for a relationship to obtain between two non-local domains as long as it passes through the edge(s) that separate(s) them, successive-cyclically. Phases are thus opaque domains with transparent edges. This characterization actually makes phases sound a bit like modules, which are individually encapsulated, but have well-defined interfaces for passing information between them. In this talk, I explore a different conception of phases that takes the modularity metaphor more seriously. Rather than building up an essentially unified structure and removing subparts before they can interact with each other, I will argue that phases can be created independently, each in its own separate workspace, and then stitched together to yield a final complete structure. If all locality-sensitive operations have to take place in the individual phases in their separate workspaces, opacity follows straightforwardly. Transparency at the edges can be achieved by having adjacent phases literally share their edges, which not only allows successive-cyclic long-distance behavior, but also can be used to ensure that only the right kinds of phases will be stitched together. My presentation is largely speculative, exploring the consequences of this kind of approach and how it might be developed, rather than arguing strongly in its favor. However, I do discuss some potential benefits it has. E.g. it avoids the issue of how to trigger Spell-out of the edge of the highest phase in a sentence. It makes it irrelevant what order (derivation-temporally, not linearly) phases are stitched together, which means it can more easily be used as a basis for a theory of performance (phases are built bottom-up, but sentences can be built left-to-right) and may also provide a solution to the problems raised by Phillips's data on ephemeral constituents.


McFadden, Thomas. 2015. ZAS Papers in Linguistics 58:15-48.

This paper aims to work toward a proper understanding of the role of preverbal ge- in Old English and its disappearance in the course of Middle English. This prefix is reminiscent of its cognates in Modern German and Dutch in its distribution, but even a cursory examination of the details reveals it to be quite distinct. The proper characterization of that distribution, and of its diachronic development, has proven to be extremely dicult. I have thus carried out a large-scale corpus study using the York-Toronto-Helsinki parsed corpus of Old English prose (Taylor et al. 2003) and the Penn-Helsinki parsed corpus of Middle English, 2nd ed. (Kroch & Tay- lor 1999). This paper reports the results of the first phase of the project, involving patterns in the data that could be identified primarily on the basis of automatic searches in the corpora. These patterns serve as the empirical basis for an improved description of the facts, and ultimately for a more precise theoretical hypothesis about the nature of ge- than any found in previous work. I propose specifically that ge- in OE was the default realization of a res(ultative) head in the sense of Ramchand (2008).  


McFadden, Thomas. 2014. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 32:115-136.

Abstract: In this commentary, I will critically discuss Priyanka Biswas’ contribution to this volume, in which she examines the properties of five types of clauses headed by participial verb forms in Bangla and proposes an account of their sometimes novel properties in terms of Landau (2004)’s theory of control. I will take Biswas’ empirical analysis as a starting point for a broader discussion of finiteness and the relationship between different types of embedded clauses and the kinds of subjects they allow. I will argue that the theoretical treatment Biswas herself adopts does not allow a proper explanation of the connection, and will propose a distinct approach in terms of differential clause sizes. While this approach will remain highly speculative, I will argue that it at least allows us to formulate falsifiable hypotheses with testable predictions, and thus could serve as the foundation for a truly insightful theory of the distribution of subject types.

Keywords: Finiteness · Cartography · Subjects · Case · Control · Embedding · Clause-size · Bangla


McFadden, Thomas. 2012. In Linguistics of Tomorrow, ed. K. Grohmann, A Shelkovaya and D. Zoumpalidis. Newcastly upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

An account of the distribution of for in English infinitives in terms of the Case needs of the following subject is initially attractive when we concentrate on the limited set of data normally discussed in overviews and introductions. However, I argue in this article that it clearly fails when we broaden our empirical perspective. The difficulties begin when we consider infinitival complements of a broader selection of verb classes. Matters get worse when we bring in diachronic data on for-to infinitives, which are strikingly inconsistent with the predictions of Case theory and cast serious doubt on accounts devised for the synchronic data. The trouble continues when we bring in cross-linguistic evidence for comparison. The conclusion we will come to is that English for is actually rather odd, and the details of its distribution are more likely to be due to language-particular quirks than something deep and universal like abstract Case.

I argue that the distribution of for can be more accurately described in terms of restrictions on overt and covert complementizers, which apply to that as well, which has a suspiciously similar distribution. I present evidence that these restrictions must be characterized at least partly in prosodic terms, and make a first attempt at precisifying and motivating these. I then propose that the differences of detail in the restrictions on the two complementizers can be accounted for if we adopt central aspects of Rizzi (1997)’s structures for the English left periphery, but argue against certain peripheral aspects of his account which depend on Case theory. While I cannot present a fully principled explanation of the distribution of for, I lay out as much as possible the properties that such an explanation must and must not have.


McFadden, Thomas and Sandhya Sundaresan. 2011. Ms. University of Tromsø.

In this paper, we argue that the conditions on the overtness of subjects and those governing the distribution of nominative case must be kept logically distinct. In typical nominative-accusative languages, nominative case is not assigned by finite T or by agreement with any functional head. Rather, even in prototypical subject position it is the default case, showing up when the conditions for the assignment of all other cases are not met. The appearance of a dependency is due to a confusion of conditions on nominative case with conditions on the overtness of subjects. Conditions on overtness and case-marking tend to coincide, but a careful look at the data shows that they are orthogonal to each other, and that the latter has more to do with conditions on coreference which in itself is a function of modes of clausal selection and degree of clausal dependency.


McFadden, Thomas and Artemis Alexiadou. 2010. Linguistic Inquiry 41.3:389-425.

Abstract: In this article, we investigate the peculiar distribution of the auxiliaries have and be in Earlier English and its consequences for theories of the perfect and auxiliary selection. We argue on the basis of a large-scale corpus study that the periphrastic construction with be was restricted to a stative resultative interpretation, whereas that with have developed a wider range of uses, crucially including the experiential perfect in addition to resultatives. Support comes from comparing the Earlier English patterns with related ones in Norwegian and German for which native-speaker judgments are available. On the basis of this insight, we propose distinct formal analyses for the two constructions and show how they account for the attested patterns and changes in Middle and Early Modern English. Of particular theoretical relevance is the premise that what has been called the "perfect" is not a homogeneous, monolithic category, and that certain kinds of variation can only be understood by teasing apart the pieces involved. Earlier English and German auxiliaries have distinct distributions because their "perfects" have disinct syntactic and semantic makeups.

Keywords: perfect, auxiliary selection, resultative, stative, experiential perfect, perfect of result, counterfactual, Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, German, Norwegian


Sundaresan, Sandhya and Thomas McFadden. 2009. Journal of South Asian Linguistics 2:5--34.

Abstract: This paper presents an alternative account of DP distribution that is based on DPs being selected rather than being Case-theoretically licensed. We argue that the fundamental prediction made by Case theory, namely that obligatorily controlled pro and overt DPs are in complementary distribution, is not empirically justified. To this end, we provide data from non-finite clausal adjuncts, complements and gerundivals in Tamil where subject controlled PRO and overt subject DPs seem to alternate in free variation. We further illustrate, with supporting evidence from Malayalam, Sinhala, Latin, Irish, and Middle English as well as the Present-Day English gerundival construction, that this type of problematic alternation is not a language-specific quirk but a widely attested crosslinguistic phenomenon. While standard Case theories are equipped to handle either the occurrence of PRO or that of an overt subject, they are unable to consistently handle the alternation between both types of elements. Our selection analysis is designed to handle the alternations as well as instances where only one DP type is allowed.


McFadden, Thomas. 2009. In Explorations of Phase Theory: Features and Arguments, ed. Kleanthes Grohmann. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 107-130.

It is argued that long-distance case assignment does not actually exist. Un- like long-distance agreement, it would necessarily violate the Phase Im- penetrability Condition. All examples that have been analyzed in terms of long-distance case actually involve the appearance of the nominative as the default case. Cases that are actually assigned – the accusative and the non- structural cases – always obey locality. Yet assignment of the accusative does appear to violate cyclicity. This problem can however be solved as well with the right view on when case is assigned, once the dependency between structural accusatives and other DPs is properly understood. As a result, the alternative solution put forward by Sigurðsson (2006b), requiring that subjects first-merge lower than objects, is shown to be unnecessary.


McFadden, Thomas. 2009. Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 63:53–82.

This paper proposes and explores a strong hypothesis on the origin of the Germanic strong adjective inflection. Specifically, it was completely pronominal in Proto-Germanic asa result of a wholesale remodelling on the basis of the pronominal adjectives, rather than being a combination of originally pronominal and nominal forms. I attempt to show that every attested form in the daughter languages is consistent with this hypothesis, either by demonstrating that it can directly reflect a pronominal ending, or by arguing that there is reason to believe that the original pronominal form has been analogically replaced by a nominal one at a later date. This yields a more parsimonious account than the traditional assumption of a mixture of nominal and pronominal endings as the result of sporadic and incomplete analogy.


McFadden, Thomas. 2007. Language and Linguistics Compass 1.6:674-708.

Few syntactic phenomena are relevant to as many areas of linguistic theory as auxiliary selection – the alternation between auxiliaries in periphrastic constructions. Standing at the intersection between syntax, lexical and clausal semantics and morphology, it has been the subject of intense research since the late 1970s and has played a role in several important theoretical developments and debates. Auxiliary selection also poses a number of empirical questions. Even within a single language, the correct description of the alternation can be controversial, and the extensive cross-linguistic variation has turned out to be rather difficult to characterize in a systematic way. In this article, I give a survey of how our understanding of auxiliary selection has developed, both on the empirical and the theoretical side. I also include a brief discussion of work on how patterns of selection arise and change over time.


McFadden, Thomas. 2007. Proceedings of the 30th annual Penn Linguistics Colloquium.

This paper is concerned with theoretical and empirical issues in the definition and treatment of morphological categories. Considering the decomposition of privative categories into bundles of binary features, I will discuss what work the latter should be expected to do. I will propose a fairly literal interpreta- tion of these component binary features and argue that we should take their independence from one another more seriously. I will then show that this pro- vides us with the means to deal nicely with default categories, in particular the phenomenon known as default case.


McFadden, Thomas and Artemis Alexiadou. 2006. In Comparative studies in Germanic Syntax, ed. Jutta Hartmann and László Molnárfi. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 237-262.

The retreat of be as perfect auxiliary in the history of English is examined. Corpus data are presented showing that the initial advance of have was most closely connected to a restriction against be in past counterfactuals. Other factors which have been reported to favor the spread of have are either dependent on the counterfactual effect, or significantly weaker in comparison. It is argued that the effect can be traced to the semantics of the be perfect, which denoted resultativity rather than anteriority proper. Related data from other older Germanic and Romance languages are presented, and finally implications for existing theories of auxiliary selection stemming from the findings presented are discussed.


McFadden, Thomas. 2006. In Datives and similar cases, ed. Werner Abraham, Daniel Hole and André Meinuger. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 49-77.

Two lines of recent research are brought together to argue that the defining characteristic of German inherent dative arguments is not morphological but syntactic. On the one hand, evidence is mounting that dative objects with two-place verbs, as well as those with three-place verbs, differ in their argument-structural status from direct objects receiving structural accusative case. On the other hand, the GB idea that movement is case-driven, which was central to previous analyses of the behavior of inherent datives under passivization, has been considerably weakened. It is proposed instead that the special syntactic, semantic and morphological properties of dative arguments should be derived from the way in which they are introduced into the structure. This not only accounts for the German data that form the basis of the discussion, but can also be more easily extended to languages like Icelandic, which are famously problematic for the original inherent Case analysis.


McFadden, Thomas. 2005. English Language and Linguistics 9.1:63-82.

It is shown that the connection posited by Roberts (1997) between the loss of case marking and the shift from OV to VO in English is contradicted by the facts of English and the other Germanic languages. It is argued that this failure is not the result of an incorrect handling of the syntactic or morphological details, but of the way that the proposal straddles the syntax-morphology interface. Parallels are explored with research on verb raising and agreement, and it is proposed that, in order to be more than a descriptive generalization, the claim that some morphological property has a syntactic effect must be couched in terms that both the morphology and the syntax can refer to in a principled way.



McFadden, Thomas. 2004. PhD Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.

The main thesis of this dissertation is that morphological case is a purely morphological phenomenon, determined exclusively within the post-Spell-out portion of the derivation on the branch leading to PF. As such, case will depend in large part on the output of the pre-Spell-out narrow syntax, but the narrow syntax will not be able to make reference to or depend in any way on morphological case. I motivate this thesis by presenting extensive evidence that, contrary to what has been assumed since the late 1970s, morphological case is completely independent of the principles of positional DP-licensing that have been called syntactic or abstract Case. I then examine a series of syntactic phenomena which have been argued to depend crucially on morphological case. Specifically, I demonstrate that the interpretation and syn- tactic behavior of DPs marked with semantic and inherent cases is not due to their special case-marking. Rather, these DPs are distinguished from others by the syntactic structures in which they appear, and it is these structures that are responsible for both their special case-marking and their special syntactico-semantic behavior. I also present a series of empirical and theoretical arguments against making the syntactic processes that derive word-order freedom directly dependent within the synchronic grammar on rich morphological case-marking. I then develop a theory of morphological case-assignment, and show that the treatment of the actual morphology need make no reference to operations that are proper to the narrow syntax, either for the determination of which cases will appear or for the placement of the case-markers themselves. Finally, I reconsider syntactic Case in the light of the other results of the dissertation and explore the possibility that it could be eliminated from the theory, showing that, even for the regulation of subject positions in embedded clauses, where it is supposed to play its most important role, it offers no real insight into the distribution of DPs. At best it is largely stipulative, and at worst it makes the wrong empirical predictions.

CsPTools v0.3.1

McFadden, Thomas. 2005. GNU GPL v.2, Universität Stuttgart.

CsPTools is a package of tools written in perl which assist in the processing, analysis and interpretation of files output by the CorpusSearch program based on searches fo corpora in the Penn Treebank format. Much of the functionality centers around the use of coding with CS, which typically involves extensive human editing of CS outputs, and thus implies a great deal of time expenditure and an associated high rate of errors. CsPTools has been designed to automate parts of this process, reducing the amount of human time necessary and addressing specific issues of error avoidance and detection. The package consists of ten perl scripts and a shared module, on which they all depend. CsPTools is made available as is under the terms of the GNU General Public License v.2. Note that it has not been actively developed since 2005 and never left the beta stage. It will almost certainly not work on new systems without some adjustments to fit local configurations and more modern set-ups, but the necessary adjustments should be fairly minor. I can attest that I have always been able to get it working on the various Linux and Mac OSX systems I have used in the intervening years, and with fairly minimal tweaking. The manual also has not been updated, which is mostly ok since the software hasn't changed, but it means that there are lots of old URLs that don't work anymore. If you are interested in using the software and have any questions or issues with getting it working, don't hesitate to email me at

Download Manual for CsPTools v0.3.1

Download complete CsPTools v0.3.1 distribution as .zip archive (also includes the manual)



McFadden, Thomas. 2002. In Syntactic Effects of Morphological Change, ed. David Lightfoot. Oxford University Press.

Abstract: This chapter keys the rise of to-datives to the loss of dative case and views it as a continuation of the older direct-indirect object order, where the indirect case was marked for a dative case. It adopts Harley's (1999) adaptation of Larson's VP-shell analysis and treats a wide range of data from the Penn–Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English. It shows that the to-dative first emerged in early Middle English as the morphological case system collapsed in most dialects. The chapter offers a careful analysis of various movement operations, arguing for a single base order for to-datives. This permits the argument that what is constant is the fact the indirect objects at all stages received oblique case; what changed is that oblique was once realized by overt case-marking but came later to be realized as a PP.

Keywords:  to-datives, Middle English, Modern English, Harley, Larson


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