Two Types of Dative Structures in Russian

In languages with the nominative sentence pattern (Keenan 1976; Kibrik 1997), the default type of subject is overt nominative subject (Spec of an agreeing TP), taking on the same form in transitive and intransitive clauses. Many languages with a nominative sentence pattern apply to different types of subject-like expressions, which may occasionally fill the subject slot depending on the choice of a predicate and/or syntactic configuration — clausal subjects (CPs, VP-infinitives etc), expletive forms (Eng. It, there, Ger. Es, Dan. det, der), zero subjects, cf. (Zimmerling 2007), oblique subjects. The status of the latter is probably most controversial. Shoorlemmer (Shoorlemmer 1994) argues that dative NPs of Russian Dative-Impersonal clauses are subject-like, since they share (some) control-and-binding possibilities with Russian nominative subjects, while Moore and Perlmutter treat them as fronted non-subject NPs, so called I-nominals (Perlmutter & Moore 2000, 379-381).

Modern Russian has a wide variety of grammatical subjects. Apart from overt nominative subjects which trigger agreement (Specs of agreeing TPs), it has clausal subjects (both CPs and VP-infinitives), oblique subjects (Specs of non-agreeing TPs), semi-expletive pronoun èto ‘it’, ‘this one’ and, finally, case-marked zero subjects in 3Sg. and 3Pl., cf. (Mel’čuk 1995,180-185).

I support claim by (Franks 1995, 251) that two major types of Russian Dative-impersonal-clauses — Dative-Infinitive-Structures (DIS) and Dative-Predicative-Structures (DPS) — exemplify two different uses of the Dative Case, structural and lexical case, respectively.

See a draft version of my 2009 paper on Russian dative structures. Published in : Anton Zimmerling. Два типа дативных предложений в русском языке // Слово – чистое веселье: Сборник статей в честь А. Б. Пеньковского М.: Языки славянских культур, 2009, 471-489.

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