Linguistics Colloquium: Olga Kagan

16/03/2021 - 14:00 - 15:30

Olga Kagan, Ben Gurion University

Title: Singulativity, the Mass-Count Distinction, and The Russian Suffix -in


In this talk, I investigate the properties of morphological mass-to-count and count-to-mass operators, by considering three uses of the Russian suffix -in, illustrated below:

(i) countizer:               gorox - gorošina         ‘pea (mass) - a pea’

(ii) singularizer:          armjane - armjanin     ‘Armenians - an Armenian’

(iii) massifier:             kon’ - konina               ‘horse - horsemeat’

The first two uses are sometimes referred to in the literature as singulative (Corbett 2000, Acquaviva 2008, Musatov 2015, Nurmio 2019). The countizer creates count stems/nouns out of mass ones. The singularizer marks the noun in which it appears as (count) singular. The third use is not generally discussed in their context and is informally described as contributing a ‘meat’ meaning component (Shvedova et al. 1980:190); however, I propose that it functions as a count-to-mass operator and as such reverses the contribution of countizer -in (i).

The talk puts forward a formal semantic analysis for each use of -in, raising the question of which instantiations of this suffix should be unified and which, on the opposite, have to be explicitly distinguished.  'High', phonologically null mass-to-count and count-to-mass operators are compared to 'low' and overt ones.


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