Property-Denoting NPs and Non-Canonical Genitive Case

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In this paper, I discuss the semantics of certain instances of non-canonical genitive Case in Russian. I use the term non-canonical genitive Case to refer to the phenomena whereby an object of the verb is assigned genitive Case, rather than accusative. More specifically, I discuss two phenomena: Genitive of Negation and Intensional Genitive. The paper is organized as follows. First, I introduce the two phenomena. In Section 2, I demonstrate that they share numerous properties and, therefore, a unifying account is preferable. Previously proposed analyses of non-canonical genitive Case are briefly discussed in Section 3. In Section 4, I propose a new direction for analyzing the phenomena in question. I present part of my on-going research on the topic and argue that the choice of the Case of the object in the discussed environments is dependent on existential commitment. I suggest that this notion, once appropriately elaborated, makes it possible to account for both the distribution of genitive objects and their semantic properties. Finally, in Section 5, the relation between absence of existential commitment and the semantics of NPs is examined. It is proposed that NPs that lack existential commitment in the sense formulated in Section 4 denote properties, rather than referring to or quantifying over objects in any given world. I therefore propose that the non-canonical genitive Case is assigned to propertydenoting NPs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory, 17
EditorsTova Friedman, Masayuki Gibson
Place of PublicationIthaca
PublisherCLC Publications
StatePublished - 2007


  • semantics
  • genitive case
  • genitive of negation
  • intensional genitive


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