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Constraints on Structure and Derivation in Syntax, Phonology and Morphology

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Edited By Anna Bloch-Rozmej and Anna Bondaruk

The papers collected in this volume explore the major mechanisms, that is derivations and constraints, claimed to be responsible for various aspects of the linguistic systems, their syntax, phonology and morphology. The contributors approach these issues through a detailed analysis of selected phenomena of Modern English, Old English, Polish, Russian, Hungarian and Icelandic, offering novel theoretical and descriptive insights into the working of human language.

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The “bagel problem” in Russian – The Dynamic Syntax approach (Nadežda Christopher)

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Nadežda Christopher1

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

The “bagel problem” in Russian – The Dynamic Syntax approach

Abstract: This paper examines the complementary distribution pattern of two types of Russian indefinite pronouns: ni- and libo-words. These indefinite pronouns are restricted to non-veridical contexts, which makes them negative polarity items. Within these non-veridical contexts, libo-items have a much wider distribution than ni-words, as the former can appear in all non-veridical contexts, apart from those with predicate sentential negation, to which the latter are confined. This distribution pattern was referred to as the “Bagel Problem” by Pereltsvaig (2006). This paper proposes a new approach to the “Bagel Problem” from the point of view of the theoretical framework of Dynamic Syntax. It is concluded that both ni- and libo-items are: a) highly sensitive to the immediate context in which they appear; and b) interact with the context in different ways, namely, ni-items either make or keep a clause negative, while libo-items require to be parsed in non-veridical contexts except clausemate sentential negation ones. This difference in the behaviour of ni- and libo-items is formally represented in their Dynamic Syntax lexical entries.

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