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Hardcover | $60.00 Short | £41.95 | ISBN: 9780262019729 | 180 pp. | 6 x 9 in | December 2013
Paperback | $30.00 Short | £20.95 | ISBN: 9780262525022 | 180 pp. | 6 x 9 in | December 2013

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Russian Case Morphology and the Syntactic Categories


In this book, David Pesetsky argues that the peculiarities of Russian nominal phrases provide significant clues concerning the syntactic side of morphological case. Pesetsky argues against the traditional view that case categories such as nominative or genitive have a special status in the grammar of human languages. Supporting his argument with a detailed analysis of a complex array of morpho-syntactic phenomena in the Russian noun phrase (with brief excursions to other languages), he proposes instead that the case categories are just part-of-speech features copied as morphology from head to dependent as syntactic structure is built.

Pesetsky presents a careful investigation of one of the thorniest topics in Russian grammar, the morpho-syntax of noun phrases with numerals (including those traditionally called the paucals). He argues that these bewilderingly complex facts can be explained if case categories are viewed simply as parts of speech, assigned as morphology. Pesetsky’s analysis is notable for offering a new theoretical perspective on some of the most puzzling areas of Russian grammar, a highly original account of nominal case that significantly affects our understanding of an important property of language.

About the Author

David Pesetsky is Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics and Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT. He is the author of Zero Syntax: Experiencers and Cascades and Phrasal Movement and Its Kin, both published by the MIT Press. Pesetsky is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was recently elected a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America.


“David Pesetsky provides a brilliant and astonishingly original account of one of the most notorious problems of Russian morphosyntax--that of the case and number patterns in numerical phrases. By meticulously exposing the deep regularities beneath one language’s apparently minor inflectional quirks, Pesetsky motivates a radical simplification of the overall architecture of syntactic theory. As such, Pesetsky’s book is the best kind of linguistic research—it reaffirms the place of generative linguistics as an empirically driven creative science, and moves our understanding of the true relation between syntax and morphology to a new level.”
John Frederick Bailyn, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Stony Brook University; author of The Syntax of Russian