Complementizer semantics in European languages
The paper examines syntactic and distributional properties of complementizers in Kalmyk, morphologically identical to non-finite forms of the verb 'say' (gi-), which is a common feature in Altaic languages. It is shown that when used as a complementizer the verb gi- still exhibits certain features associated with the verb 'say' as manifested in its distribution and restrictions on the interpretation of indexicals. At the same time, in its verbal uses the verb gi- shares a number of properties pertaining to functional elements. A unified analysis of both complementizer and verbal uses is proposed where gi- is a functional verb with impoverished semantic content.
This contribution consists of three parts. The first section is dedicated to a description of the complementizer system in Russian, whereas the second and the third section describe the same aspects of Polish and Bulgarian – though not in the same detail as for Russian. In the Russian part, the set of Russian complementizers is considered, each of them is described in short, and, finally, some problematic cases of multifunctional units are also mentioned.
ninteresting feature of Russian is its rich system of composed markers (those with the correlative to or with the subjunctive marker by) which in fact can be analyzed either as complex complementizers (this is more plausible for by-variants) or as combinations of markers (this seems to be plausible for to-variants).
Interestingly, Russian has no specialized complementizers, such as Polish że having only a complementizer use. All of the Russian markers analyzed also have other uses. Sometimes, as with polysemous adverbial clause markers kogda ‘when’, esli ‘if’ and the purpose marker čtoby ‘(in order) to’, the word order can serve as a distinctive feature: in the complementizer use, these units (and, correspondingly, the embedded clause itself) have a fixed position after the main clause, which is not true for adverbial uses. This fact confirms (at least for kogda and esli) the tendency observed for many languages: if a marker is used as a complementizer and as another type of subordinator, the complementizer use is often secondary, a result of grammaticalization.