The aim of this paper is to examine accusative case marking by Japanese movement verbs. In some cases, Source is expressed with a semantically vacuous accusative case, even though in Japanese Source has an embodied form, kara, the inherent case directly corresponding to the semantic role. There are, however, some constraints on accusative marking of Source:
Source cannot be marked with an accusative,
(1) if Goal as well as Source is implied, or
(2) if the action expressed by the verb is not controlled volitionally. These facts can be explained in the following way. First I account for accusative-marked Source in lexical-conceptual structure, positing a process that incorporates the semanteme FROM into the semanteme MOVE. As for generalization (1), this incorporation will be blocked by an intervening semanteme TO. This blocking will result as a consequence if we assume that one of the originally syntactic principles of relativized minimality or economy of derivation is also at work within lexical-conceptual structures. Second, generalization (2) can be explained in terms of unaccusativity in syntax.
In addition, it is also shown that the semantic role of Path, which has no corresponding inherent case in Japanese, is peculiar in that it can be marked with an accusative, even when the syntactic structure contains a verb expressing an action that lacks volitional control, i.e., even when there is no external argument.
The Linguistic Society of Japan