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Title: Approximation in Russian and the single-word constraint
Authors: Billings, Loren Allen
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Balto-Slavic Languages
Issue Date: 1995
Publisher: Princeton University
Abstract: Russian quantifiers are known for their complexity. This dissertation investigates expressions of indefinite quantity—specifically, accusative-assigning s ‘about’ of approximate measure. This preposition has undergone a somewhat unique diachronic change which now requires that its complement consist of only a single word. I chronicle the advent of the single-word restriction (LONE-WD), showing historical data with multi-word complements of s. Adjective-noun and numeral-noun complements were once attested; Russian now requires only one word after s. This study investigates various apparent exceptions to LONE-WD, which are violated only under very specific circumstances. These exceptions clarify the morphosyntax of • paucal numerals (‘two’ through ‘four’ and the fractions pol ‘half’ and cˇetvert ´ ‘quarter’), • “prequantifier” adjectives, • syntactic compounds (adjective-noun sequences which inflect separately but are treated by the syntax as a single word), and • large-quantity numbers (tysjacˇa ‘thousand’ and greater). Distributions of special genitive-singular and -plural forms, assigned only by quantifiers, are shown to be distinct: Only paucal numerals in morphologicalnominative case assign “ADPAUCAL” genitive-singular forms (such as end-stressed cˇaSA ‘hours’); a number of elements, not just numerals, trigger “COUNT” genitiveplural forms (cˇ elovek ‘people’). Other constructions discussed include okolo ‘approximately’, approximative inversion, ètak ‘about’, and neskol´ko ‘several’: Quantification is not a syntactic category but a semantic feature for which okolo is unmarked; okolo is quantificational only if its sister is a quantifier. Otherwise okolo is merely proximative: ‘near’. Tests confirm that quantificational okolo heads a prepositional phrase within the noun phrase. While most prepositional quantifiers have this structure, accusative-assigning s is the relativized head of a hybrid phrase due to featural deficiencies. Numeral-noun complements of s undergo approximative inversion—the noun moving to specifier position—to circumvent LONE-WD. Approximative inversion is likewise subject to a variant of LONE-WD, which requires a single prosodic word in the quantified constituent. When inversion is impossible a pleonastic count noun is inserted instead. An Optimality-theoretic model is proposed, formalizing LONE-WD and constraints requiring prosodic contiguity and exceptions to LONE-WD caused by words expressing more closely defined measure.
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