Countability, agreement and the loss of the dual in Russian
Arthur Stepanov, Penka Stateva
March 2016

In this work we investigate the internal syntax and semantics of quantified phrases (QP) involving cardinal numerals. Concentrating on the set of previously documented puzzles concerning Case and number agreement within the numeral phrase in Russian, we argue that these agreement patterns follow naturally if one recognizes three structural layers in a numeral-based QP: the countability layer, the number layer and the quantificational layer. These layers were discussed in the literature to various extent, but their respective role and place in the syntactic structure of numeral-based QPs and the details of their interaction were not sufficiently understood. Our central theoretical claim is that the countability layer is implemented as a (pseudo-)classifier structure whose morphological manifestation obeys a principle of syntactic “visibility”. Our specific claim for Russian is that, diachronically, the countability layer has emerged as a result of the loss of the dual number in the course of transition between Old and Modern Russian. We strenghten our conclusions with psycholinguistic evidence from a sentence completion study that tests Russian speakers’ sensitivity to the countability layer.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003757
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: to appear in Journal of Linguistics
keywords: countability, atomicity, numeral, agreement, dual number, classifier, russian, morphology, syntax, semantics
previous versions: v1 [March 2016]
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