Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Nominal Split Constructions in Ukrainian

Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

Nominal Split Constructions in Ukrainian

Article excerpt

Abstract: Discontinuous (or split) nominal and prepositional constructions are extremely productive in Ukrainian. In split constructions, the head and the noun dependents are separated by lexical material which does not belong to the nominal or prepositional phrase. Ukrainian, like other Slavic languages, has free word order, a flexible intonation, and no obligatory articles--three properties that are decisive for the emergence of split constructions. The paper focuses on the role played by information-structure and intonation. A distinction is made between cohesive intonation, in which both parts of the split construction are uttered in a single intonation phrase, and non-cohesive intonation, in which the two parts of the splits are in separate intonation phrases. A cohesive intonation favors so-called simple splits in which the order of the constituents is respected, whereas a non-cohesive intonation typically (but not necessarily) correlates with inverted splits, where the order of the constituents differs from the canonical one. Both types of splits are triggered by an asymmetric information-structure: the two parts of the discontinuous phrase are separated from each other because they bear different information-structural features, like topic, focus, and givenness.

1. Introduction

This paper studies discontinuous nominal and prepositional constructions in Ukrainian, a Slavic language with free word order and free intonation (see Shevelov 1993 for a linguistic description of Ukrainian), and focuses on so-called split constructions, (1) in which the heads of a single (extended) nominal projection appear in different positions of a clause. Discontinuous constructions have a syntactic and an intonational component and are licensed by a marked information-structure. In the following sections, we consider these three elements individually and interactively.

Examples of split constructions in Ukrainian are given in (1) through (4). We distinguish between simple splits, where the underlying order of (or, rather, the hierarchical relations among) the constituents of the nominal projection are preserved in the split construction, and inverted splits, in which underlying order or hierarchy is inverted (see Fanselow and Cavar 2002 for this distinction).

The sentence in (1) is an example of a split embedded in a declarative sentence. In the canonical order (1a) the adjective precedes its nominal head (see for instance Bilodid 1972, Hryscenko 1997 and Shevelov 1963 for word order in Ukrainian). In a simple split (1b), the relative order of the adjective and the noun is preserved, but they are separated by the subject and the verb. The noun is in what appears to be its canonical position, but the adjective is fronted as a consequence of the narrow focus on this word. In (1c), the order of the adjective and the noun is reversed. The noun is fronted because it is a topic, and the adjective remains in situ. It has narrow focus. In all the examples of this paper, the participants of split constructions are underlined. The square brackets show the phrasing at the level of the intonation phrase. Subscripted i stands for i-phrase or intonation phrase, subscripted p for p-phrase or prosodic phrase and subscripted FOC and TOP indicate the information-structure. When necessary for the discussion, a distinction is made between wide focus (WFoc) and narrow focus (NFoc). As shown in section 2, such a distinction is made in the melodic shape of the accented words.

(1) Declarative Sentence

a. Canonical Order

[Marija procytala cikavu [knyzkul.sub.i].

Mary has-read [interesting.sub.ACC.FEM] [book.sub.ACC.FEM]

'Mary has read an interesting book.'

(1) b. Simple Split

[Cikavu Marija procytala [knyzkul.sub.i]

[interesting.sub.ACC.FEM-NFoc] Mary has-read [book.sub.ACC.FEM]

c. Inverted Split

[[Knyzkul].sub.i] [Marija procytala [cikavu]. …

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