Gribanova colloquium Friday November 13 at 3:30

Vera Gribanova, Stanford University, will present “Negative concord, genitive of negation, and clausal ellipsis in Russian” in the Linguistics colloquium series at 3:30 Friday November 13. An abstract follows. All are welcome!

Register here: 

In this talk, I present an in-progress investigation of interactions between the syntax of polarity in Russian and polarity-sensitive items — negative concord elements (NEG-words) and DPs marked with the genitive of negation (GoN-DPs) — in the environment of clausal ellipsis. Though both NEG-words and GoN-DPs must generally co-occur with clausemate negation in Russian, it has been known for some time that the syntactic licensing conditions for these two phenomena are in fact distinct (Franks and Brown 1995; Brown 1999). In the first part of the talk, I provide a syntax for these licensing conditions and demonstrate that this syntax, in conjunction with the application of clausal (TP) ellipsis, gives rise to the differences we observe between NEG-words and GoN-DPs as fragment answers: NEG-words can be licensed as fragment answers in the absence of an overt expression of negation in the antecedent, but GoN-DPs cannot. These differences in behavior follow from three interrelated commitments: first, that in Russian there is a low position for polarity, association with the expression of sentential negation, and a high one, which is null but semantically interpretable (Brown and Franks, 1995; Brown, 1999; Gribanova, 2017); second, that there can be fronting of the NEG-word to the left periphery in conjunction with TP ellipsis (Giannakidou, 1998; Merchant, 2004); and third, that Russian NEG-words are licensed by the higher instance of polarity (Laka, 1994; Zeijlstra, 2008) while GoN-DPs are licensed by an AGREE relation with the low expression of negation (Franks and Brown 1995, Brown 1999, Harves, 2002, Abels, 2005).
In the second part of the talk, this unified picture meets with a set of challenges that arise from the interaction between Gon-DPs and contrastive polarity ellipsis (Kazenin 2006; Gribanova 2017), in which clausal ellipsis is combined with the fronting of a contrastive DP to the left periphery, preceding a polar particle (‘yes’ or ‘no’). For some native Russian speakers, such configurations give rise to violations of the case connectivity effect usually associated with the phrasal remnant: genitive patients under negation in the antecedent can, in a narrow set of circumstances, correspond to an accusative patient remnant outside the ellipsis site. Although these effects seem to contradict prominent ideas about the identity relation necessary to license ellipsis (Chung 2013, Merchant 2013), I point out that they might be better understood in light of recent work that takes the domain for identity in clausal ellipsis (e.g. in sluicing) to be smaller than has traditionally been assumed (Rudin 2019, Anand, Hardt, McCloskey in progress).