Countability, agreement and the loss of the dual in Russian
Arthur Stepanov, Penka Stateva
February 2018

In this work we investigate the internal syntax and semantics of quantifier phrases (QP) involving cardinal numerals. Concentrating on a 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. 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, this 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 strengthen 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
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