Inferential approach to the core cases in Estonian


This paper presents an overview of the following arguments in Estonian, which were originally published in Cann & Miljan (2012) and Miljan & Cann (2013): 1) case-marking should not be treated as the passive realisation of other morpho-syntactic properties of a construction but as independently bringing information to a clause; 2) this different view of case entails that precise functions of case-marked expressions may be determined by the interaction of the case marking, the meaning of the host noun, the semantics of any predicate of which it is an argument and other contextually given factors; more specifically; 3) the partitive case is semantically partitive even in alternation in grammatical contexts with nominative and genitive; 4) the completive interpretations of nominative and genitive derive from contrast with the partitive reading, rather than as being encoded in the case marking itself; 5) the nominative is merely the absence of case, associated with no specific positions or semantic effects; 6) the only ’structural’ case in Estonian is the genitive, which marks non-subject, or oblique, dependency on some head.