Case in Lexical-Functional Grammar

Miriam Butt

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199206476
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Case in Lexical-Functional Grammar

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



The treatment of case has been one of the central concerns within lexical-functional grammar (LFG) since its inception in the late 1970s. LFG separates facts about linear word order and constituency from the functional dependency structure analysis of a clause. A sophisticated analysis of cross-linguistic case patterns only became available as LFG's linking theory (known as lexical mapping theory) evolved. In particular, once it was recognised on the basis of argumentation by Rappaport (1983) that argument structure needed to be posited as a level of representation that was independent of constituent structure, the way was paved for analyses of case to be stated in terms of generalisations over a(rgument)-structure. That is, in terms of generalisations that take both semantic and syntactic factors into account. This article first presents some LFG basics, then briefly charts the development of linking theory and discusses current theories of case. It also considers grammatical relations and grammatical functions, constructive case, and differential case theory. It concludes with a consideration of LFG-based analyses that are couched within optimality theory.

Keywords: case; lexical-functional grammar; linking theory; optimality theory; argument structure; grammatical relations; grammatical functions; constructive case; differential case theory

Article.  4291 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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