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Article

Syntactic Idioms across Languages: Corpus Evidence from Russian and English

Russian linguistics. 2014. Vol. 38. No. 2. P. 187 -203.

This paper considers the issues of compositionality, concessive meaning, negative polarity, scalarity, linguistic anthropocentricity, and semantics-syntax interaction in a corpus study of the concessive syntactic idiom pri vsjom X-e ‘with all X’ in Russian and its non-idiomatic counterpart with all X in English. The study demonstrates (a) both compositional and non-compositional components in the Russian idiom on syntactic and semantic levels; (b) strong correlation between the semantic and syntactic properties of the idiom; (c) semantic properties typical of other syntactic idioms (such as negative polarization); (d) pragmatic properties that are typical of other syntactic idioms (such as entailments incorporating implicit scales and anthropocentric evaluation); (e) language-specific idiomatic status, which cannot be predicted compositionally and needs to be established on an individual basis, even when a seemingly identical item is present in the two languages under comparison.