University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


This paper uses the distribution of ni- and –nibud’-series of irrealis pronouns in Russian to explore the structure of irrealis infinitivals. Members of the ni-series are negative concord items licensed by sentential negation (the head of NegP, which dominates TP); they cannot be licensed long across a CP phase boundary (Brown (1999), Fitzgibbons (2010), among others). -Nibud’-items are licensed by certain items that have been argued in the literature to be in the CP domain at LF, such as, for example, question operators ((Cheng (1991), Chomsky (1995), Rizzi (1997), (1999), Sportiche (1995))) and imperative operators ((Han (2001), (Belletti (1999), Schwager (2005), Zanuttini (2008)).

This paper draws the following conclusions from the near-complementary distribution of these two pronominal series in irrealis infinitivals,:

  1. Russian irrealis infinitivals can be generated as either CPs or as TPs, and the irrealis infinitivals where–nibud’-items are licensed are CPs.
  2. -nibud’-items that are licensed in the subject position of moč’ ‘can’ undergo A-movement out of the infinitival complement CP.
  3. It is not the matrix modal word that licenses the –nibud’-items in irrealis infinitival complements. The licenseris the irrealis C of the embedded infinitival.



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