Prepositional Repercussions in Russian: Pronouns, Comparatives and Ellipsis
Tatiana Philippova
April 2018

The present dissertation deals with Russian morphosyntactic phenomena involving adpositions. Much of this dissertation is devoted to a study of the distribution of the so-called pripredložnye ‘prepositional’ pronouns in Russian. In previous research their seemingly chaotic distribution proved to be hard to account for. Especially puzzling was the fact that beyond prepositional object environments these pronouns, which I refer to as n-forms, appear in (and only in) the genitive standard DP of the Russian phrasal comparative, in which no preposition appears. I propose a uniform analysis of the distribution of n-forms in Russian, which maintains the intuition that they are ‘prepositional’, i.e. occur in P-object positions. However, I refine the generalization by saying that n-forms are only licensed in the complement of P-heads. I thus make a crucial distinction between a vaguely defined group of prepositions and lexemes that are syntactically P-heads. The idea then is that only those ‘prepositions’ that have the status of a P-head will license an n-form in its complement position. In the main text I examine a large group of ‘prepositions’ in detail, providing arguments that only some of them are P-heads. The ‘comparative puzzle’ is solved by proposing that the phrasal comparative in Russian involves a null P-head that licenses the genitive n-form in the standard DP. The study proposes that lexemes labelled prepositions in traditional grammars of Russian actually split into three classes. Class I lexemes are P-heads, the only ‘true’ prepositions in a sense. Class II lexemes are structurally ambiguous between N-heads or P-N combinations (with the complement being an argument of the nominal head), and a lexicalized P-head composed of syntactically inactive nominal (and prepositional) morphemes. Class III lexemes, on the other hand, are never P-heads: they are either P-N combinations, transitive adverbs/adjectives (A-heads) or gerunds (V-heads). Let me note here that as far as I can see, the arguments for treating ‘prepositions’ of Class III as non-prepositions, and lexemes of Class II as ambiguous between prepositions on the one hand and nouns or prepositional phrases (active preposition-noun combinations) on the other are theoretically neutral and may be adopted to explain n-form distribution in various linguistic frameworks, which might make this thesis interesting to a rather wide audience of readers. However, maintaining the same 4 type of analysis to derive the n-forms in the phrasal comparative while avoiding the claim that those comparatives are actually prepositions (P-heads) is more demanding: it requires a theoretical framework that is abstract enough to allow positing syntactically active but phonetically null elements of various categories, here prepositions (P-heads). The existence of independent evidence for the null P analysis of the phrasal comparative and the explanatory power of the resulting uniform treatment of n-forms justify this abstract construct, which in turn suggests that theories allowing such constructs may well be on the right track. The part of the dissertation devoted to the analysis of ‘prepositional’ n-forms has implications for the typology and morphosyntax of pronouns, Case theory and the typology of case. It may also be instructive for further studies aiming at a classification of prepositions in various languages. In addition, the classification of ‘prepositions’ developed here may prove relevant for understanding the non-homogeneous behavior of different prepositions in particular environments. Another part of this dissertation delves more deeply into the Russian phrasal comparative, probing the structure behind the genitive DP-standard. Employing a variety of tests, I show that the standard of comparison DP and the DP it is contrasted with (known as the correlate DP) should belong in the same clause. This fact favors the simple, Direct Analysis of the standard DP, under which it does not involve additional (silent) structure. Next, I offer a new generalization, the Oblique Correlate Constraint, which imposes morphosyntactic restrictions on the genitive standard of comparison. I show that the constraint quite straightforwardly falls out from a more complex, Reduced Clause Analysis, positing abstract structure behind the standard. Looking at other languages, I suggest that the presence of such a constraint in their phrasal comparative may signal that they are to be analyzed as reduced clauses. This part of the thesis thus adds to the growing body of literature investigating the structure of phrasal comparatives across languages and contributes to the notorious debate on whether phrasal comparatives should be analyzed directly (the ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ approach) or whether they have a clausal structure underlyingly (the ellipsis approach).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004016
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
keywords: russian, adpositions, prepositions, pronouns, case, comparatives, ellipsis, morphology, syntax
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