Possessor Raising and Slavic clitics

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The paper discusses syntactic features of Slavic possessive clitics and Slavic constructions with so-called “Possessor Raising”. I prove that only a minority of Slavic languages have true phrase-level (NP-level or DP-level) possessive clitics and argue against a generalized syntactic account of all Slavic constructions with possessive operators. The weak aspects of the PR hypothesis are that it takes the mapping of syntax and possessive semantics to be iconic and the rules/principles of extracting a NP/DP-level possessive operator out of the NP/DP to be trivial. These assumptions are poorly justified empirically. Slavic languages typically apply different case-marking for non-agreeing phrase-level possessive operators and non-agreeing clause-level possessive operators. A group of languages, including Modern Russian, lacks phrase-level possessive clitics. For this group the PR hypothesis cannot be validated. Most cases where the PR hypothesis has been proposed in previous Slavic studies do not conform to the definition of Raising as a syntactic operation, since the identity of structures with a clause-level or phrase-level possessive operator cannot be established. Such cases must be reanalyzed in terms of Possessive Shift, i.e. alternation of a true possessive construction with a NP/DP-level possessive element and its quasi-synonym, a pseudo-possessive construction with a case-marked verbal argument. Keywords: possessor raising; possessive shift; clitics; slavic languages


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