The paper discusses the present stage of the evolution of the initial [n]/[j] stem alternation in Russian third person pronouns. After providing a short overview of the origins of the forms, I focus on their category status, discuss Zalizniak’s ‘adpositionality’ in some detail, and then proceed to considering the cases where the ‘n’-forms are induced by a distant ‘controller’. I will show that the fact that the ‘n’-forms are essentially variants is better accounted for by the notion of ‘trigger’ of a morphological variant. To my eyes, this open ways to a better understanding of the observed evidence than that using the conventional notion of morphosyntactic controller, on the one hand—and certainly than explaining them in (morpho)phonological terms. In the end, I will briefly argue that, in a sense, the evolution of the alternation is similar to degrammaticalization, showing a movement from a morphophonologically conditioned external sandhi to a morphosyntactic category similar to government.
Mehweb Dargwa features a particle gwa, a peculiar element which is basically used for emphasizing the assertion. The paper explores some grammatical characteristics of this particle. It is shown that, in both verbal and non-verbal clauses, gwa serves as a predicative marker forming a complete predication and is an equivalent of a copula (even though, unlike the neutral copula in Mehweb, it lacks inflection). Similarly to typical East Caucasian predicative markers, gwa may occur in different positions, though its place is syntactically constrained (e.g., it cannot be embedded within syntactic islands). Still, Mehweb speakers allow gwa not to be adjoined to either the predicate or the focus. This makes the distribution of the particle surprising as compared with similar predicative markers in well-described East Caucasian languages, where they may either occur on the predicate or immediately follow the focused element.
Grammaticalization is often considered to reflect frequent co-occurrence of certain elements in certain positions. This paper tests the frequency-based account of the grammaticalization of person agreement, comparing the grammaticalization of person agreement in Tabasaran, a Lezgic language, with the syntax of free pronouns in closely related Agul. Our assumption is that the situation in Agul, where person marking is not grammaticalized, approximately reflects a diachronic stage prior to the grammaticalization of person marking in closely related Tabasaran. We find little evidence in support of a frequency-based approach, at least when frequency is treated in terms of global frequencies. We do, however, identify a highly frequent verb that already in Agul appears to regularly associate with the pattern that has generalized to become person agreement in Tabasaran. We suggest specific information structural configurations associated with this verb, which have provided the impetus for the development. More generally, we show that while global measures of frequency may not yield the correct predictions, investigating the syntactic constructions associated with individual lexical items may be more revealing, and provide a more realistic model for reconstructing the paths of syntactic change involving the generalization of existing and quite local patterns.
The paper examines the notions 'animate' and 'inanimate' which are often used in Latin textbooks in order to explain prepositional or nonpreposotional use of the ablative case of the nouns in the function of 'Ablativus auctoris' or 'Ablativus instrumenti/causae/rei efficientis' with passive verbs. I conclude that the 'animacy' of nouns in Latin is less regularly expressed by grammatical means and less stable than in Russian and should be considered a semantic category rather than a formal grammatical category.