Genitive Objects, Existence and Individuation

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This paper investigates three phenomena that involve genitive Case-assignment to the direct object in Russian: Genitive of Negation, Intensional Genitive and Partitive Genitive. I argue, following Neidle (1988), that Genitive of Negation and Intensional Genitive share a considerable number of properties and should be provided a unified account. It is proposed that both phenomena are sensitive to the notion of 'existential commitment' : the choice of genitive Case is strongly associated with the lack of commitment to the existence of the referent. A distinction between different types of existential commitment is introduced, with each type determining Case-assignment in a certain class of sentences. The picture is then extended to include Partitive Genitive. Numerous properties differentiate this Case from both Intensional Genitive and Genitive of Negation. However, despite these differences, all the three types of genitive Case are unified by a the non-specific, indefinite interpretation. I propose that this complex pattern can be accounted for by means of the notion of 'individuation'. All the types of genitive nomináis under investigation are non-individuated, which accounts for the observed similarity. The difference between Partitive Genitive and the other Cases is proposed to result from the fact that different types and sources of non-individuation are involved.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)17-39
JournalRussian Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


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