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Russian unaccusatives

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Against covert A-movement in Russian unaccusatives1 1 Introduction It is widely accepted that there are displacement operations which show no visible phonological reflex. We use the term COVERT MOVEMENT to refer to such operations. Covert movement has been at the forefront of the Principles and Parameters research agenda since Huang 1982 and May 1985, which used it to account for Chinese wh-in-situ and English quantified noun phrases, respectively. In the domain of A'-movement, there are covert analogues of most overt movement phenomena, including covert wh-movement (Huang 1982, Richards 2001) and covert scrambling (e.g. Mahajan 1990). Within the domain of A-movement however, the picture is rather different. Overt A-movement phenomena such as subject-to-subject raising, passive, and unaccusative advancement are robustly attested cross-linguistically; however, clear cases of covert A-movement are rare. One instance proposed in the literature is Babyonyshev et al.’s (2001) covert A-movement analysis of Russian unaccusatives. In this squib, we revisit that material and argue against the covert A-movement analysis on empirical grounds. We conclude that Russian unaccusatives do not instantiate covert A-movement. 1 Abbreviations: ACC—accusative, COMP—complementizer, GEN—genitive, GN—genitive of negation, IMF—imperfective, INF—infinitive, MASC—masculine, NEG—negation, NOM—nominative, NTR—neuter, PERF—perfective, PL—plural, PRES—present, SBJV—subjunctive.2 2 The argument for covert A-movement in Russian (Babyonyshev et al. 2001) The A-movement that Babyonyshev et al. (2001) investigates is the movement of the internal argument of an unaccusative predicate to subject position. In English, the theme of an unaccusative predicate begins as an internal argument and moves overtly to the subject position, (1) (Perlmutter 1978, Pesetsky 1982, Burzio 1986, Levin and Rappaport Hovav 1995). In some languages, such as Italian, this movement is optional (Perlmutter 1983, Burzio 1986 and others). (1) [TP snow [VP melted snow]] Russian has several unaccusativity diagnostics (Chvany 1975, Pesetsky 1982), among them the Genitive of Negation (GN). GN is a phenomenon in which an underlying direct object may appear in the genitive case when licensed by negation. To illustrate, the genitive of the direct object in (2a) is impossible because there is no negation but, in the negative (2b), the accusative and the genitive alternate. (2) a. ja uvidel ptic-u/*ptic-y 1SG saw bird-ACC/*bird-GEN ‘I saw a/the bird.’ (GN impossible) b. ja ne uvidel ptic-u/ptic-y 1SG not saw bird-ACC/bird-GEN ‘I did not see a/any/the bird.’ (GN possible) GN is impossible on subjects of transitive verbs, (3), and some intransitive verbs, (4), even in the presence of negation: (3) a. ni-kak-ie mal´čik-i ne polučili podarki NEG-kind-NOM.PL boy-NOM.PL not received gifts3 b. *ni-kak-ix mal´čik-ov ne polučilo podarki NEG-kind-GEN.PL boy-GEN.PL not received gifts ‘No boys received gifts.’ (4) a. ni-kak-ie devočk-i ne tancevali NEG-kind-NOM.PL girl-NOM.PL not danced b. *ni-kak-ix devoček ne tancevalo NEG-kind-GEN.PL girl-GEN.PL not danced ‘No girls/None of the girls were dancing.’ In contrast, GN is possible with subjects of intransitive verbs that are canonically analyzed as unaccusatives. In this case, GN alternates with the nominative. We illustrate this alternation with the subject of a simple unaccusative verb, (5); the alternation is also possible on subjects of passive verbs and raising verbs.2 (5) a. ni-kak-ie grib-y zdes´ ne rast-ut NEG-kind-NOM.PL mushroom-NOM.PL here not grow-PRES.3PL b. zdes´ ne rast´-ot ni-kak-ix grib-ov here not grow-PRES.SG NEG-kind-GEN.PL mushroom-GEN.PL ‘No mushrooms/None of the mushrooms grow here.’ Generalizing over this data and others, Babyonyshev et al. proposes the following conditions on GN licensing: 2 In addition to the case difference, there is also a difference in agreement: verbal and adjectival predicates agree with the nominative but verbs and adjectives assume default agreement with the genitive.4 (6) a. GN only appears on underlying direct objects (Babyonyshev et al. (7)) b. GN is licensed by negation under m-command c. GN is licensed across infinitival clause boundaries d. GN on a DP must be licensed at the DP’s highest position in an A-chain e. GN licensing is checked at LF Babyonyshev et al. assign the following derivation to the GN example in (5b). (7) [TP nikakix gribov zdes´ ne [VP rast´ot nikakix gribov]] kind mushrooms here not grown kind.GEN mushroom.GEN.PL ‘No mushrooms grow here.’ On the surface, the GN is in the direct object position. At LF, the GN moves to the matrix subject position, spec,TP. We represent this covert movement using a crossed out copy in the higher position. The highest link in the chain is licensed as required by (6) by being m-commanded by negation. The argument for covert A-movement comes from the following claim: When an unaccusative verb is embedded under a raising verb, the genitive theme argument of that verb can be licensed by matrix negation, but not by embedded negation: (8) a. ne dolžno [pojavit´sja ni-kak-ix mal´čik-ov v klasse] not must.NTR appear.INF.PERF NEG-kind-GEN.PL boy-GEN.PL in class ‘There don’t have to appear any boys in class.’ (B. et al., ex. (20a)) b. *dolžno [ne pojavit´sja ni-kak-ix mal´čik-ov v klasse] must.NTR not appear.INF.PERF NEG-kind-GEN.PL boy-GEN.PL in class (‘There must not appear any boys in class.’) (B. et al., ex. (20b))5 The GN in (8a) is licensed by matrix negation according to the licensing conditions in (6). Whether or not the GN moves to the matrix subject position, it will be m-commanded by the matrix negation. The ungrammaticality of (8b), in contrast, requires the following explanation: The GN undergoes covert


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