Linguistics Colloquium: Tanya Philippova

18/04/2017 - 14:00 - 15:30

Tanya Philippova, Ben Gurion University

Title: The Russian Genitive of Comparison: DP or Clause?

Abstract: In this talk I discuss the structure underlying the genitive standard DP in the Russian phrasal comparative, illustrated in (1-2).

(1)                Ivan                       (prygaet)             vyše       menja                                  

Ivan.NOM               jumps                 higher   1SG.GEN

‘Ivan {is taller; jumps higher} than me.’

(2)                Ja            uvažaju Petrovu                               bol’še Ivanova        

I.NOM    respect Petrova.ACC      more  Ivanov.GEN

‘I respect Petrova more than Ivanov.’

I respect Petrova more than Ivanov does.’                     

= ‘I respect Petrova more than I respect Ivanov.’          

I present a novel constraint on the correlates to the genitive standard and show that it quite straightforwardly falls out from a reduced clause analysis (á la Merchant 2009 or Pancheva 2010). Under closer scrutiny, however, it turns out that the constraint does not always hold. In particular, it is alleviated if the correlate DP or the comparative adverb + the genitive standard move to the sentence-initial position. To capture the whole range of data I propose an information-structural analysis, with the central tenet being that the correlate (target of comparison) has to be interpreted as a contrastive topic, in the sense of Erteschik-Shir (1997, 2007). Explaining correlate constraints in the information structure alleviates the need to posit elaborate abstract structure behind the genitive DP, enabling the simpler direct DP-analysis. Time permitting, I will also discuss how the analysis relates to the Hungarian phrasal comparative, whose adessive-marked standard DP has been claimed to admit only nominative, accusative and dative correlates (Wunderlich 2001) and the Hindi-Urdu and Japanese phrasal comparatives, reportedly admitting correlates bearing any kind of case morphology (Bhatt and Takahashi 2011).


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