The ``bagel problem'' in Russian - The Dynamic Syntax approach

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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Constraints on Structure and Derivation in Syntax, Phonology and Morphology
Peter Lang
Anna Bloch-Rozmej and Anna Bondaruk
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