The accusative/genitive alternation in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian
Halima Husic, Agata Renans
May 2022

There is an ongoing discussion in the literature on how the meaning conveyed by (in)definite determiners is expressed in languages which lack an (in)definite article system (see e.g., Chierchia 1998; Dayal 2004; Deal 2017). One proposal is that in Slavic languages the meaning conveyed by (in)definite determiners is expressed by case markers (e.g., Kagan 2007; Khrizman 2014; Borschev et al. 2008). In particular, the observation was that in the case of the accusative/ genitive alternation, the accusative is associated with the meaning conveyed by definites, while the genitive case is associated with the meaning conveyed by indefinites. We tested this observation in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) focusing on the alternation of the accusative with the partitive genitive in the direct object position of transitive verbs. The results of our research show that whereas the accusative conveys the inferences of maximality and weak familiarity of the discourse referent, the genitive case does not. We propose that the partitive genitive in BCS presupposes proper partitivity. The inferences of the accusative, on the other hand, arise as implicated anti-presuppositions yielded by the competition with the partitive genitive.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006602
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
keywords: case alternation, definiteness, partitivity, implicature, semantics
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