Puzzles of Russian Subjunctives

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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics
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In this paper I explore the structure of Russian subjunctive and indicative clauses, and demonstrate the asymmetries between them. The first asymmetry is the phenomenon of subject obviation, i.e. ban on coreference between the pronominal subject of the embedded subjunctive clause and the subject of the matrix clause. The second asymmetry is the fact that the long-distance scrambling of subjects is allowed out of subjunctive complements, and prohibited out of indicative complements. The third asymmetry concerns the fact that the subject wh-extraction is allowed out of subjunctive embedded clauses, and prohibited out of indicative. In order to account for these asymmetries, I adopt the framework by Pesetsky and Torrego (2001, 2007) and propose featural approach to binding (similar to Branigan, 2000), according to which binding operated on bundles of formal features, and not only on overt nominals. That allows me to reduce obviation effects to the violation of Principle B on featural level. I further propose that Russian indicative clauses lack complementizer, and what was though to be an indicative complementizer in Russian (chto) is in fact located in Spec,CP position. At the conclusion I show how Criterial Freezing approach by Rizzi (2006) can account for impossibility of subject extraction (both wh-extraction and scrambling) out of indicative embedded clauses, and propose the mechanism according to which subjunctive complementizer (by) can free up the subject of the subjunctive embedded clause for extraction.

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