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Long-distance Genitive of Negation in Lithuanian

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Abstract

This paper investigates the phenomenon of the replacement of Accusative case marking on the direct object of a transitive infinitive (or, rarely, participle) by the Genitive when the non-finite clause is embedded under a negated matrix verb. Basing myself on data collected from native speakers, corpora and the Internet, I show that the phenomenon of long-distance Genitive of Negation in Lithuanian is acceptable (and often obligatory) with various kinds of matrix verbs: subject control verbs, object control verbs with Dative, Genitive and Accusative objects, and some complex noun + verb predicates. In some of these instances, Genitive of Negation can affect more than one direct object. Besides that, the case-marking rule is virtually unbounded in its application, being able to target deeply embedded direct objects, provided that there is a chain of infinitival clauses. The application of this rule shows considerable variation, which depends on the type of the matrix verb, on the degree of syntactic embedding, on word order and also to a large extent on individual preferences of speakers. From an areal perspective Lithuanian is shown to pattern with the more conservative Slavic languages (Polish and Slovene), Latgalian and the Baltic Finnic languages Estonian and Finnish, rather than with the closely related Latvian, which, like Czech, has abolished Genitive of Negation almost completely.

References

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