The paper argues that structural case assignment properties of English and German reduced comparative subclauses arise from syntactic requirements as well as processes holding at the syntax-phonology interface. I show that constructions involving both an adjectival and a verbal predicate require the subject remnant of the adjectival predicate to be marked for the accusative case both in English and German, which cannot be explained by the notion of default accusative case, especially because German has no default accusative case. I argue that a phonologically defective subclause is reanalysed as part of the matrix clausal object, and hence receives accusative morphological case.
The article focuses on comparative complementisers in comparative clauses expressing inequality in various languages, with particular attention paid to their role as lexicalising negative polarity. I argue that the relevant property follows from degree semantics, in that the comparative subclause encodes the inequality of the degree expressed by a matrix clausal element and the one expressed by the comparative operator. Just like ordinary negation, this has to be encoded overtly; however, as it does not constitute an instance of genuine clausal negation, the property cannot be encoded by an operator, and hence must be realised on a functional head, which is either the complementiser or a separate polarity head.