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Article on D. Pesetsky’s grammar theories

  Tags: Grammar | Russian
 Language Learning Forum : Русский Post Reply
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chokofingrz
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 Message 1 of 12
10 February 2014 at 12:31am | IP Logged 
Some of you might find this short article interesting.

Quote:
MIT professor’s new book explains how the quirks of Russian numerals can tell us something deep about the universal properties of grammar.


Quote:
To see why nouns might be inherently genitive, though, consider a Russian phrase Pesetsky discusses in his book: “eti poslednie pjat’ krasivyx stolov,” or “these last five beautiful tables,” which is an example of “case mismatch.” The words “these,” “last,” and “five” are all in the nominative case, but “beautiful” and “tables” remain genitive.


Quote:
“The idea that nouns are born genitive is completely counterintuitive to everybody,” Pesetsky acknowledges.


Crackpot? Genius? Inconsequential linguistics boffin? Discuss.
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Cabaire
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 Message 2 of 12
10 February 2014 at 1:23am | IP Logged 
I do not understand his ideas. Can someone explain them to me?
PS. If I remember correcty, the weired system of the russian numerals came into being, when the dual forms merged with the genitive singualar, and the numbers three, four, five, which behaved beforehand as adjectives with the nominative plural joined the rection of the word two, while numerals biger than five, which were nouns, kept their partitive attribute in the genitive plural. So why proves this, that nouns are intrinsic genitives? And verbs and prepositions can govern all sorts of cases in Russian, not only those mentioned by the researcher. Can everybody follow me?! I am baffled.
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Марк
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 Message 3 of 12
10 February 2014 at 6:56am | IP Logged 
Cabaire wrote:
I do not understand his ideas. Can someone explain them to me?
PS. If I remember correcty, the weired system of the russian numerals came into being,
when the dual forms merged with the genitive singualar, and the numbers three, four,
five, which behaved beforehand as adjectives with the nominative plural joined the
rection of the word two, while numerals biger than five, which were nouns, kept their
partitive attribute in the genitive plural. So why proves this, that nouns are intrinsic
genitives? And verbs and prepositions can govern all sorts of cases in Russian, not only
those mentioned by the researcher. Can everybody follow me?! I am baffled.

Пять was a noun too.
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Cabaire
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 Message 4 of 12
10 February 2014 at 1:49pm | IP Logged 
Yes of, course, Марк, that was wrong with five.
You see still the traces of the nominative in the adjectives:
три молодые (Nom. Pl.) учителницы (Gen. Sg.) (three young female teachers)
You can verify that the noun is singular by checking the accent:
четыре большие страны (four big countries)

Edited by Cabaire on 10 February 2014 at 1:50pm

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Lykeio
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 Message 5 of 12
10 February 2014 at 3:47pm | IP Logged 
Crackpot, its what happen when you remove the rigorous philological core from
linguistics. Sure, do let's throw aside all the corroborated, empirical, evidence on
how case (in particular PIE) languages work and chase snowflakes. It's like that god
awful Chomsky book which manages to somehow misunderstand root vowels and ablauting.
Wow. Work in roots, not cases, even Panini knew that.

As for his idea that a language may involve a few interacting systems. Well...yes,
that's interesting and plausible but has received attention before. But as for the
rest, does anyone even pay attention to this kind of linguistics anymore? It was never
too popular with specialists but, as I said, it's lacked the rigour of philology, the
interest of field linguistics, the relevancy of sociolinguistics/pragmatics and the
usefulness of second language acquisition. I'll probably purchase and read the book
like an idiot anyway though.
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Cabaire
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 Message 6 of 12
10 February 2014 at 4:31pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
What the numeral is actually doing is preventing the genitive that the nouns were born with from being erased due to assignment of another case by the verb

He thinks these are "free" forms, protected by a barrier of numerals. I wonder were these wild genitive nouns appear also, unhindered by verbs, prepositions or their kindsmen, other nouns.
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ScottScheule
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 Message 7 of 12
10 February 2014 at 4:32pm | IP Logged 
Which Chomsky book was that?

The article doesn't give me enough information to make a decision one way or the other. Perhaps one of you who read the work will be able to explain it to me.
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Cabaire
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 Message 8 of 12
10 February 2014 at 4:51pm | IP Logged 
The case mismatch is a quite interesting issue:
эти последние (N.pl.) пять красивиых (G.pl.) столов would mean "these last five stools which are beautiful" (but there may be other ugly ones)
but
эти пять последных красивих столов would mean "these five stools, which are the last and beautiful too" (no others left, but they are beautiful, hurrah!)
Complicated case structures happen easily in highly inflected languages.



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