Encasing the Absolutes


  • Uroš Martinčič University of Ljubljana




absolute constructions, case, Minimalist syntax, small clauses


The paper explores the issue of structure and case in English absolute constructions, whose subjects are deduced by several descriptive grammars as being in the nominative case due to its supposed neutrality in terms of register. This deduction is countered by systematic accounts presented within the framework of the Minimalist Program which relate the case of absolute constructions to specific grammatical factors. Each proposal is shown as an attempt of analysing absolute constructions as basic predication structures, either full clauses or small clauses. I argue in favour of the small clause approach due to its minimal reliance on transformations and unique stipulations. Furthermore, I propose that small clauses project a singular category, and show that the use of two cases in English absolute constructions can be accounted for if they are analysed as depictive phrases, possibly selected by prepositions. The case of the subject in absolutes is shown to be a result of syntactic and non-syntactic factors. I thus argue in accordance with Minimalist goals that syntactic case does not exist, attributing its role in absolutes to other mechanisms.


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How to Cite

Martinčič, U. (2014). Encasing the Absolutes. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 11(2), 21–35. https://doi.org/10.4312/elope.11.2.21-35