A Minimalist Account of Structural Case Assignment in Pashto Dative Constructions


  • Talat Masood Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Swabi
  • Mujib Rahman Qurtuba University, Peshawar


Structural Case assignment; dative Case; nominative Case; accusative Case; functional category; agreement


In Pashto, typical double object constructions cannot be found; ditransitive verbs, in Pashto, form constructions that are commonly referred to as dative constructions. Similarly, in Pashto, it is always the postpositions that are attached to the indirect object to form dative constructions while cross-linguistically it is not the case. These, coupled with the fact that Pashto is a tense based split-ergative language, necessitate that the phenomenon of case assignment in Pashto dative constructions be thoroughly explored. It is proposed that in Pashto dative constructions an Appl functional head takes an adpositional phrase as its complement and the other object as its specifier. In case a postposition follows the nominal in the adpositional phrase, the nominal along with the postposition prefer to move to the already filled spec ApplP, through scrambling, and ends up adjoined to the ApplP, resulting in an extended ApplP. For structural Case3 assignment, this paper adopts the minimalist idea that ?-features agreement between a functional head and a nominal results in assigning structural Case to that nominal. Thus, ?-features agreement with T results in nominative Case, with ? or Voice (depending on tense) results in accusative Case, and with the Appl results in assigning dative Case to the relevant nominal.