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ISSN : 1226-3206(Print)
Studies in Modern Grammar Vol.108 pp.1-17

Nominative Case Unmarking in Korean

Myung-Kwan Park
Dongguk University


This paper investigates Nominative Case drop/ellipsis or unmarking in Korean. Kwon and Zribi-Hert (2008) and H. Lee (2020) claim that Nominative Case unmarking occurs in direct perception situations where identification of the agent role of an event participant (represented by a Nom Case-less subject NP) can be grounded in the here and now of utterance time. They go on to provide an information structure-theoretic account of the interpretive contrast between Nom Case-less and Nom Case-marked subject NPs in terms of f(ocus)-structure. They propose that Nom Case-less subject NPs are restructured as the matrix focus of the neutral thetic f-structure. This paper explores a new avenue, arguing that Nominative Case unmarking follows not from the information structure of the whole sentence in question, but essentially from the syntactic structure and interpretational gamut of Korean determiner-less bare common NPs where Nom Case is not marked. More specifically, it is proposed below that in Korean, contextually salient entities tend to be grammatically encoded by Nom Case-less bare NPs, thus the Nom Case unmarking option being attributed to the syntax and semantics of bare common NPs in general in this language.