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Reviewed by:
  • Advances in the syntax of DPs: Structure, agreement, and caseed. by Anna Bondaruk, Gréte Dalmi, and Alexander Grosu
  • Olga Mitrenina
Anna Bondaruk, Gréte Dalmi, and Alexander Grosu, eds. Advances in the syntax of DPs: Structure, agreement, and case. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2014. 320 pp. [ Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics today, 217.]

The average person would never guess that two or three simple words standing right next to each other could yield a big tree that could be the cause of a genuine scholarly war. But chemists who study molecular structures would have a good understanding of us syntacticians. They, too, know that the correct formula for even very small elements can offer clues to understanding the fundamental nature of this world.

The volume Advances in the syntax of DPsis about determiner phrases, their inner structure, and their interaction with other elements of the sentence. It is a memorial volume in celebration of the life and work of the Israeli Russian linguist, Helen Trugman. This review primarily covers the chapters of this volume that use Slavic material or that can be applied to Slavic studies. However, most Slavic languages have no articles, so the question of whether they have DPs or only NPs is still an open question, though one that is beyond the scope of this volume.

In chapter 1 (“Introduction,” pp. 1–12) Alexander Grosu presents a brief introduction to the study of DPs along with an overview of the other chapters of the volume.

Chapter 2 (“The overgeneration problem and the case of semipredicatives in Russian,” pp. 13–59) by Steven Franks is the largest and most fundamental contribution to the volume. Franks studies the behavior of Russian semipredicatives sam‘alone’ and odin‘one’. They agree in case with their antecedents in obligatory control structures, as in (1), but they are in the dative in infinitival constructions in non- obligatory control contexts, as in (2). [End Page 331]

  1. (1). On    xočet    [vse    sdelat’  sam/    *samomu].

    he NOM     wants    all ACC     do INF     self NOM /    self DAT

    ‘He wants to do all that himself.’

  2. (2). Nevozmožno    [perejti    ètot    most    samomu/*sam].

    impossible    cross INF     this    bridge    self DAT /    self NOM

    ‘It is impossible to cross this bridge on one’s own.’

This contrast raises a question that Franks introduces at the beginning of his article: “Once a mechanism is postulated for assigning the dative case, the question arises of why that mechanism is not also available even when there is an accessible antecedent, as in (1).” Franks calls this puzzle “the overgeneration problem,” and it forms the title of the chapter.

Franks reviews four different approaches to this type of construction: (i) the vertical binding system of Leonard Babby (1998, 2009), (ii) the model of control as movement of Norbert Hornstein (2001) that was adopted for Russian by Lydia Grebenyova (2005), (iii) the minimalist probe-goal-and-agree system of Idan Landau (2008), and (iv) his own theory of caseless PRO within the Government and Binding framework (1995). On the basis of the movement theory of control and his own theory of 1995, Franks develops an approach that explains most of the behavior of Russian semipredicatives. The most important points of this approach are:

  1. (i). in constructions like (2) semipredicatives can be directly assigned dative, whereas ordinary adjectives must agree;

  2. (ii). to the extent that semipredicatives do not agree but are assigned the dative case, there is no need to introduce PRO DAT ;

  3. (iii). arguments have more sensitive case requirements than do adjuncts; that is why some nominal adjuncts can freely receive structural case in contexts where arguments cannot.

Among the main phenomena that allow Franks to build his system are the mixed judgments that are possible with most semipredicatives, although not with all of them. Franks presents a number of examples that allow mixed judgments, as in (3) or (6) below: [End Page 332]

  1. (3). Ivan    sdelal    usilie    porabotat’    odin/    odnomu    nad    Ivan NOM     made    effort    work INF     alone NOM /alone DAT     over temoj.

    topic INST

    ‘Ivan made an effort to work on the topic alone.’

    Judgments: NOM — 72%; DAT — 45%

Franks explains these mixed judgments, as reported in Landau...


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