Challenging a Single-Factor Analysis of Case Drop in Korean

  • Received : 2015.04.21
  • Accepted : 2015.06.12
  • Published : 2015.06.30


Korean marks case for subjects and objects, but it is well known that case-markers can be dropped in certain contexts. Kwon and Zribi-Hertz (2008) establishes the phenomenon of Korean case drop on a single factor of f(ocus)-structure visibility and claims that both subject and object case drop can fall under a single linguistic generalization of information structure. However, the supporting data is not empirically substantiated and the tenability of the f-structure analysis is still under question. In this paper, an experiment was conducted to show that the specific claims of Kwon and Zribi-Hertz's analysis that places exclusive importance on information structure cannot be adequately supported by empirical evidence. In addition, the present study examines H. Lee's (2006a, 2006c) multi-factor analysis of object case drop and investigates whether this approach can subsume both subject and object case drop under a unified analysis. The present findings indicate that the multi-factor analysis that involves the interaction of independent factors (Focus, Animacy, and Definiteness) is also compatible with subject case drop, and that judgments on case drop are not categorical but form gradient statistical preferences.