This dissertation analyzes the reflexivity patterns in Uralic languages from the point of view of a minimalist approach to binding. The languages under consideration are five Uralic languages spoken in the Russian Federation: Meadow Mari, Komi-Zyrian, Khanty, Besermyan Udmurt, and Erzya. The empirical data were compiled during fieldwork, and are used to test and assess current approaches to binding. The main focus of the dissertation is on a number of puzzles posed by these languages, namely the locally bound pronominals in Khanty, as well as the binding domains of what I call semi-reflexives and their ability to take split antecedents in Meadow Mari, Komi-Zyrian, Besermyan Udmurt, and Erzya. The analysis of reflexive strategies proposed in this dissertation is based on a modular approach to binding (see Reuland 2011). It disentangles the various factors playing a role in establishing interpretive dependencies, including properties of predicates and syntactic chains. The puzzling behavior of reflexive strategies under discussion is accounted for in terms of their morphosyntactic composition in tandem with general properties of grammatical computation. The present approach provides a unified basis for verbal and nominal reflexives. Overall, the study shows that cross-linguistic variation is not random. It demonstrates how descriptive fieldwork and theoretical research can be mutually beneficial and how their symbiosis deepens our understanding of the general principles underlying language, and the way these are rooted in our cognitive system.
"Sinn und Bedeutung" is a leading European conference on formal semantics and formal pragmatics, held annually at different universities across Europe. The present volume contains a collection of papers presented at the 21st “Sinn und Bedeutung” at the University of Edinburgh on September 4th–6th, 2016.
This paper is a first step towards a corpus-based description of the semantics of Russian pronouns in intensional contexts. Having justified the use of corpus in (formal) semantic research, I delineate a particular issue within the topic: whether a given pronoun is interpreted de se or de re in counteridentity contexts.
A counteridentity context is a clause within the scope of a counterfactual (clause or adverbial) that affects the identity of a real individual, e.g. if I were you, were I you, etc. If a pronoun such as I, my or the Russian reflexive possessive svoj is used in such a context, two options are theoretically possible: either it picks out the speaker’s real self (de re), or it refers to the identity assumed by the speaker in the contrary-to-fact situations introduced by the counterfactual (de se).
Using data from the GICR corpus (approx. 20 billion tokens), I show that for the Russian first-person singular pronoun ja and its corresponding possessive moj, de se reference is possible but de re interpretation is more frequent. The opposite holds for the reflexive sebja, whereas svoj is interpreted de se with no exception. Special attention is paid to situations where more than one referential strategy is possible. The paper concludes with a couple of observations relevant for the future formal accounts of de se reference.
This paper is a pilot comparative study on coreference chaining in three languages, namely, Czech, English and Russian. We have analyzed 16 parallel English-Czech newspaper texts and 16 texts in Russian (similar to the English-Czech ones in length and topics). Our motivation was to find out what the linguistic structure of coreference chains in different languages is and what types of distinctions we should take into account for advancing the development of systems for coreference resolution. Taking into account theoretical approaches to the phenomenon of coreference we based our research on the following assumption: the recognition of coreference links for different structural types of noun phrases is regulated by different language mechanisms. The other starting point was that different languages allow pronominal chaining of different length and that coreference chains properties differ for the languages with different strategies for zero anaphora and different systems for definiteness marking. This work reports our first findings within the task of the structural NP types’ distribution comparison in three languages under analysis.
The paper focuses on the paths of grammaticalization of the verb of speech manaš (‘say’, ‘name’) in Eastern Mari. The converb of this verb (manən) is desemantisized, it loses the syntactic properties of the verb of speech and shifts to the category of subordinators. Successive grammaticalization steps of this marker can be observed in Modern Mari: in some contexts it functions as a quotation marker, while in others as a subordinator. We suggest two paths of grammaticalization of this form on the basis of the given analysis: the fi rst path involves the context of verbs of speech, mental and emotive complementtaking predicates, the second path involves the contexts of causation and potential situation (in complementation), purpose and causal adverbial clauses. The argumentation for this grammaticalization pattern is based on the constraints on subordinate predicate encoding (acceptability of non-fi nite clauses with manən), the choice of pronouns [we focus on the choice of the anaphoric vs. deictic strategy of encoding the textual («original» in [Aikhenvald 2008]) speaker and hearer] and the mood of the verb in the complement clause. We show that in Modern Mari the analyzed form can have the following functions: as a quotation marker, as a subordinator in complement and adverbial clauses, as a discourse marker of hesitation and autocorrection, and as a semantically empty subordinator that is used to express negation with the infi nitive.