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Article

Асимметрия употребления местоимений что и кто и морфологическая одушевлённость

The paper focuses on one syntactic restriction on the use of the interrogative pronoun
čto ‘what’. Contrary to kto ‘who’, čto disfavours constructions where it is syntactically
parallel and co-referent to the anaphoric pronouns on ‘he’, ona ‘she’, and ono ‘it’. For instance,
in the construction kogo “ego” (lit. ‘who “he”’), which the Russian speakers use
to find out what the antecedent of the anaphoric ego is, the pronoun čto cannot be used if
its form differs from the form of the anaphoric pronoun. For example, the context — Ja
ego kupil. — Čto “ego” ‘- I bought it. — What “it”’ is impossible, because the interrogative
pronoun employs the “inanimate” inflection type, the accusative čto being identical
to the nominative, while the anaphoric pronoun follows the “animate” type, where the
accusative form ego is identical to the genitive one. I consider possible explanations of
this fact and conclude that neither a purely formal explanation in terms of form identity,
nor a semantic one, based on the referential properties of the pronouns, are satisfactory.
The most plausible explanation is rather that in some constructions, grammatical characteristics
of the two pronouns (including animacy and, to some extent, gender) must coincide,
and the morphological animacy is even more important here than the semantic one.
Key words: animacy, interrogative pronouns, anaphoric pronouns, inflection type.