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  • 1 Department of Czech Language, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Arna Nováka 1, 602 00, Brno, Czech Republic
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Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of the Russian declension in Nanosyntax (Starke 2009, 2018). The analysis has two theoretically important aspects. First, it makes no reference to language-particular declension features. This allows one to maintain the idea that morphosyntactic features are drawn from a set provided by the UG, i.e., language invariant. The analysis also does not use contextual rules. In order to correctly pair the right ending with a particular root, the analysis only relies on specifying each marker for the features it spells out. The correct pairing of roots and affixes falls out from such a specification and the Nanosyntax model of spellout.

Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of the Russian declension in Nanosyntax (Starke 2009, 2018). The analysis has two theoretically important aspects. First, it makes no reference to language-particular declension features. This allows one to maintain the idea that morphosyntactic features are drawn from a set provided by the UG, i.e., language invariant. The analysis also does not use contextual rules. In order to correctly pair the right ending with a particular root, the analysis only relies on specifying each marker for the features it spells out. The correct pairing of roots and affixes falls out from such a specification and the Nanosyntax model of spellout.

1 The arbitrary nature of declensions

Let me start by introducing two Russian nouns, namely ‘snowstorm’ and ‘week.’ Their roots are given in (1).

Russian
a.metel’- ‘snowstorm’
b.nedel’- ‘week’

What is interesting about the two nouns is that “both of these are feminine, and both have a stem ending in a soft consonant, but they decline differently” (Corbett 1982). Their differing declensions are illustrated in (2) and (3), where I list the nominative and the instrumental singular respectively.

The nominative
a.metel’-Ø (snowstorm)
b.nedel’-a (week)
The instrumental
a.metel’-ju (snowstorm)
b.nedel’-ej (week)

The issue is that there is no obvious difference between the two nouns (be it their phonology, morphology or semantics) that would allow us to explain why the root nedel’- takes one ending in ins, while metel’- takes a different one. More specifically, to the extent that there are semantic or other differences between the two nouns (e.g., ‘week’ denotes a time interval with a fixed duration, while ‘snowstorm’ does not), it is not clear how such a difference could be generalized to reliably distinguish all relevant cases. Therefore, the conclusion that many linguists draw is that the difference in the endings is arbitrary, and has to be somehow stated on top of the information that the roots have a certain phonology, particular formal properties (gender) and refer to a particular concept.

The way this is usually encoded is by assigning roots into declensions with arbitrary labels. I shall use the labels I–IV, though the labels differ in different accounts. In the numbering I adopt (Corbett 1982), the noun nedel’- belongs to Declension II, while the noun metel’- belongs to Declension III. The singular paradigms of the two declensions are depicted side by side in (4), using the roots gub- ‘lip’ and tetrad’- ‘notebook’ as the representatives of each declension.

The singular of declensions II and III (Timberlake 2004)
lipnotebook
II (fem)III (fem)
nomgub-atetrad’-Ø
accgub-utetrad’-Ø
gengub-ytetrad’-i
locgub-etetrad’-i
datgub-etetrad’-i
insgub-ojtetrad’-ju

The point of the table is to show that the difference in nom/ins is not an isolated fact; it is a pervasive property of the paradigm that the two classes of nouns combine with different endings throughout the declension.1

As already mentioned, Russian has in total four declensions. The remaining two are given below in (5). These declensions differ from each other in the nominative and in the accusative, but the oblique cases are the same, as the shading indicates. This is interesting in that this seems to suggest that declension class differences may be present in some cases, but obliterated in others, and any account of declension classes should take this into account.

Declensions I and IV (Timberlake 2004)

Syncretism among declension classes is also characteristic of the plural. For reasons of space, I cannot discuss the plural here. Its analysis (consistent with all the proposals made in the current paper) can be found in (Caha 2021).

1.1 Declension features

Let me start from the question of how differences in declension class are encoded theoretically. To have a concrete example to work with, let me come back to the instrumental. The specific question to be addressed is what forces the grammar to generate the words in (6), rather than the hypothetical words in (7), where the endings are swapped.

The correct instrumental
a.metel’-ju (snowstorm)
b.nedel’-ej (week)
The wrong instrumental2
a.*metel’-ej (snowstorm)
b.*nedel’-ju (week)

The standard approach to this issue is to assign an arbitrary index II and III to the roots, see (8).

Roots carry declension features
a.nedel [Fem, II]
b.metel [Fem, III]

The endings are then specified for the case they pronounce (the instrumental), and they contain (in addition) a contextual restriction. The contextual restriction says that the relevant endings can only be used in the context of a Class II noun (-ej in (9a)) or a Class III noun (-ju in (9b)).

Endings are specified for the context of insertion
a.ejins / _ [II]
b.juins / _ [III]

The (arbitrary) features on the roots and the contextual restriction of the endings are the two tools that current theories use to generate the correct pairings of roots and affixes in (6), and, at the same time, rule out the incorrect pairings in (7) (see, e.g., Halle 1997; Halle & Vaux 1998).

An analysis along these lines has been applied to Russian by Müller (2003) (cf. Alexiadou & Müller 2008). What Müller proposes in addition is that declension classes on nouns are not primitive entities, but decompose into two equipolent features, namely [+/−α] and [+/−β], see (10).

Müller (2003)
a.I:[+α,β]
b.II:[α,+β]
c.III:[α,β]
d.IV:[+α,+β]

The reason why Müller proposes to decompose the Class features I–IV is that this allows him to capture syncretism in between classes; recall, for instance, table (5) showing that declensions I and IV have the same endings in most cases. The decomposition in (10) is intended to capture this by proposing that the two declensions share the feature [+α]. An ending specified for this feature as its contextual restriction will naturally appear in both classes that have this feature.

The important point for now is that underlying the proposal is the very same logic as described at the beginning: tag the roots with arbitrary class features and make the endings sensitive to those features. Müller makes this crystal clear when he writes that “[i]nflection class features are arbitrary and irreducible by definition; this is reflected in the labels. Still, it is worth emphasizing that the features [+/α], [+/β] are no more arbitrary than standardly adopted features like [class I], [class II].”3

1.2 Arbitrary features vs. UG

Arbitrary class features are theoretically interesting entities, because they have implications for the architecture of grammar. Taking first a narrowly morphological perspective, a traditional architectural question in morphology is which words should be decomposed into component parts, which should not be, and how we can tell. For instance, should the past tense of go – namely went – be decomposed into an irregular root wen- and a non-productive past tense -t? Should the plural children be decomposed into an irregular root child(r)- and an irregular plural -(r)en?

Some approaches argue for full decomposition in such cases (see, e.g., Stockall & Marantz 2006). Others propose that morphological decomposition is justified only when we can productively combine the pieces together. Blevins (2016, 69–73) mentions specifically Russian declension as a case where it is impossible to combine roots/stems productively with the correct ending. According to Blevins, the need to introduce arbitrary declension features is nothing but a blatant admission of this fact. According to him, such diacritic features cannot be treated like regular properties of lexical items analogous to ‘plural.’ Rather, they are “assembly instructions” in disguise, masquerading as properties of lexical items.

An even broader issue can be linked to the ontological status of such features. For example, Chomsky (2004, 104, 107) hypothesizes that the faculty of language “FL appears to be a species property, close to uniform across a broad range. It has a genetically-determined initial state S0, which determines the possible states it can assume. […] S0 determines the set {F} of properties (“features”) available for languages.”

Clearly, arbitrary language-specific declension features like [I, II] or [+/−β] are not among those. So the need to postulate such features significantly weakens our theory of grammar: by postulating declension features, we implicitly claim that grammars do not only rely on the set of features determined by UG, but also on language-specific features. This in turn weakens the degree to which the “genetically-determined initial state S0” actually restricts the shape of surface grammars.

The idea that UG relies on a language-invariant feature set has been recently advocated also in Cinque (2013, 50–51). Specifically, Cinque stresses “the observation that of all the concepts and distinctions that populate our system of thought only a fragment receives a grammatical encoding in the languages of the world, arguably the same in all languages. […] Most cognitive concepts and distinctions do not find any such encoding. […] Verbal projections in clauses grammatically encode (through affixes, particles, auxiliaries, etc.) distinctions relating to the external and internal temporal constituency of events (tense and aspect) and the speaker's attitude toward the truth of the proposition (mood), but they are never found to grammatically encode such human cognitive universals as ‘shame,’ ‘mourning,’ ‘sexual taboos,’ etc.” Such facts make declension features even more remarkable: why is it that grammars do not allow for features related to cognitive universals, while allowing for a feature like [+/−β]?

The positions entertained by Chomsky and Cinque are, of course, controversial, and some of that controversy relates precisely to language-particular categories like the Russian declension class. For example, Haspelmath (2007, 119) says: “descriptive linguists still have no choice but to adopt the Boasian approach of positing special language-particular categories for each language. Theorists often resist it, but the crosslinguistic evidence is not converging on a smallish set of possibly innate categories.” Arbitrary declension classes I, II, etc.  are clearly an instance of language particular categories that need to be posited in our descriptions. They are therefore a relevant piece in the puzzle that we must consider in order to be able to address the larger question: what is the relationship between language particular classes and the invariant set of features? Is the existence of declensions compatible with a universal set of features at all?

In this article, I put forth one specific proposal as to how we can eliminate declension features while still accounting for the existence of declension classes. If this attempt turns out to be successful, it represents a small (but meaningful) step on the path towards a restrictive (or even contentful) theory of UG.

2 An alternative to declension features

The model I shall explore here has two major components. The first component is the morphosyntactic structure underlying nouns. What features are present? How are they arranged? I tackle this in Section 2.1. The second component concerns spellout. How do the underlying feature structures map onto specific exponents? This issue will be picked up in 2.2.

2.1 Features and hierarchies

The features I adopt in my analysis come from the cross-linguistic study of pronominal systems by Harley & Ritter (2002). The paper studied the formal distinctions expressed by pronouns in 110 languages. The study finds that the distinctions between various persons, numbers and genders are expressible in terms of the feature hierarchy depicted in (11).

In my proposal, I am going to rely on a subset of these features to model the Russian declension. The specific features I shall use are placed in rectangles. The main reason for only using features identified in an independent cross-linguistic study is to make sure that I avoid using features that are Russian specific. This is important in order to reach the desideratum, which is showing that it is possible to only rely on universal features and still account for (language-specific) declension classes.

The second reason for using the features in (11) is that nouns often mirror the grammatical categories of 3rd person pronouns (and vice versa). For instance, looking at Russian 3rd person pronouns, we see that they show very much the same distinctions as nouns: they fall into three genders (like nouns), they have a singular and plural (like nouns) and they exhibit the same set of case distinctions. Under the approach I adopt here, nouns and pronouns thus have the same grammatical features and differ mainly in that nouns have an encyclopedic content (concept) associated to them, while pronouns lack it.

The features used by Harley and Ritter are privative. Their presence indicates the presence of a particular grammatical meaning, the absence of the feature indicates the absence of that meaning.

The topmost node of the tree is labeled ref. This feature encodes the fact that pronouns are referential expressions: they always include this feature. I will assume that this feature is present also in nouns, and it is this feature what distinguishes nouns from other lexical categories. This is reminiscent of Baker (2003), who proposes that nouns are distinguished by bearing a referential index.

The features below ref are organized into two branches. On the left branch, there are person/number features. When present, they distinguish various types of first and second persons from each other. Their absence is characteristic of 3rd person pronouns. Since I am not interested here in 1st/2nd person expressions, these features are irrelevant for my analysis and I will not use them.

Moving on to the right branch of the tree (11), we find here information related to number and gender. Let me begin by number. The individuation node (ind) is a default number node. On its own, it yields singular interpretation. When further number features are present (these are below ind on the left branch), they influence the number interpretation. For example, when the feature group is present, this yields plural interpretation. The features augmented and minimal are used for special numbers (dual, paucal). These two are not relevant for my analysis and I will not use them.

The right-hand branch under the individuation node encodes gender. Russian has three genders (neuter, feminine, masculine) and it has an animate/inanimate distinction for masculine nouns. I will set animate nouns aside in my analysis and focus only on inanimate nouns.

It turns out that in order to account for inanimate declension classes in Russian, it is enough to distinguish only two genders, where feminine nouns form one class, and the neuter and masculine nouns belong to a second class. This is not to say that the Russian grammar does not distinguish between masculine nouns and neuter nouns in terms of features, but it is to say that the declension endings are oblivious to this distinction (as we shall see in the course of the discussion). In order to use as few features as possible, I will only use two of the gender features proposed by Harley and Ritter. Specifically, nouns of all genders will be given the feature class, while feminine nouns add the feature fem.4

In (12) and (13), I summarize the relevant features. In (12), I give my assumptions about number, in (13), I list the minimal amount of gender features that are necessary for my analysis.

Number
a.[ind] = singular
b.[ind+group] = plural
Gender
a.[class] = masculine and neuter
b.[class+fem] = feminine

In addition, I will need to rely on a number of case features. For the time being, I will use a single case feature K as a stand in for the nominative case, see (14a). I shall introduce additional case features in Section 3.2.

Case
a.[K] = nominative
b.[K+???] = other cases, to be determined

Following Harley & Ritter (2002), I shall be further assuming that the features laid out in (12) to (14) are structured. As for the specifics of such a structure, I am going to diverge from their proposal in several ways. Before I highlight the differences, let me say the following: the main reason why I am going to use a different structure is that this alternative structure will allow me to explain how declension classes work, while at the same time using an independently proposed theory of spellout. It is, however, possible that declension classes can also be understood without altering the structure. As to whether that is possible or not remains to be seen: the point I want to make is that there is a way of structuring these features such that we can account for the existence of declensions without the need to introduce declension features.

Another general point is that while the structures I propose are motivated by the desire to provide a coherent proposal for declension classes, the structures are not ad hoc. They have both an internal logic and a relationship to the existing literature on the topic. The essence of my proposal is depicted in (15). At the bottom of this structure, we have the NP node that traditionally hosts the noun root. The NP node denotes a property that the referent of the noun has. Above the noun, we have the projections of gender, number and case respectively.

The lower part of the structure – with number and gender above the NP – can be traced back at least to work by Picallo (1991), and a version of it is also used more recently in Kramer (2015, 43). Although the proposals differ in important details, both Picallo and Kramer converge on the idea that gender corresponds to a head that is syntactically independent of the noun root. Both approaches also consider gender to be a separate head from number, and both approaches place the number head higher than gender.

Similarly, whenever K is proposed to exist as an independent head, there is agreement that this head is high up in the noun phrase, definitely above number and quite likely also above D (which itself is higher than Num, see, e.g., Bittner & Hale 1996; Bayer et al. 2001; Kloudová 2020).

Now a specific property of my proposal is going to be that rather than locating gender/number features inside the heads in (15), I am going to rely on an approach where each such feature is an independent head. This leads me to adopt the tree in (16) as a ‘split-XP’ version of (15). The features that we see in (16) are exactly the same features as used by Harley and Ritter, and they are abstractly grouped into sets that represent the traditional division of the NP into its ‘lexical’ part (at the bottom), and then gender, number and case on top.

As in the original proposal by Harley & Ritter (2002), the features are privative. This means that they can be present or absent. The tree in (16) contains the maximal number of features, and corresponds therefore to the feminine plural. However, some of the features may be missing. For example, if the fem head is missing, we get a non-feminine noun, i.e., either a masculine noun or a neuter plural, see (17). If the group feature is missing, we get a feminine singular structure, as in (18).

2.2 Phrasal spellout

In addition to the structures explored above, I will rely on phrasal spellout as the second ingredient that allows for the elimination of declension features. The specific approach to phrasal spellout I adopt has been developed within the Nanosyntax framework (Starke 2009, 2018, cf. Baunaz & Lander 2018; Taraldsen 2019; Caha to appear). This section describes my assumptions about spellout in detail. Since I motivate the spellout principles independently of the empirical topic of declension, the section is a digression on the path. Therefore, readers who are familiar with Nanosyntax should proceed directly to Section 3.

I start by introducing the basic concepts. Phrasal spellout refers to a situation where a full syntactic phrase containing multiple terminals – such as the one in (19) – is pronounced by a single lexical item. This can be depicted as in (20). The circle indicates that the relevant phrase (containing the features X, Y and Z) has been pronounced by a single marker inserted at the top node. The phonology of the marker is placed below the circle.

Let me now describe in more detail how phrasal spellout works. To have a concrete case to work with, I shall look at the three singular-plural pairs given in (21). Accounting for these three pairs will allow me to showcase all the tools we shall need for the analysis of the Russian declension.

English plural
a.sheep – sheep (syncretism)
b.mouse – mice (suppletion)
c.cat – cat-s (affixation)

Each pair features a different type of morphological relation between the singular and plural. In (21a), we find syncretism. In (21b), we have suppletion. Finally, in (21c), the plural has an extra affix.

Let me now show how the three different cases are treated in Nanosyntax, beginning with (21a) (sheep). The starting point of my analysis is the observation that this noun has no ending in the plural. The lexical entry for this item is therefore construed in a way that it pronounces all the features contained inside the plural. What are these features? According to the proposal (16), the plural structure has two number features, ind and group. I am further assuming that the noun sheep has a classP below the number features, but no fem. The lexical entry therefore looks as in (22).

As a result, when syntax builds the relevant constituent corresponding to the plural, as in (23), this constituent can be pronounced using the lexical entry of sheep. The specific principle which determines when a lexical item matches a syntactic structure is called the Superset Principle, see (24).

Superset Principle (Starke 2009)
A lexically stored tree L matches a syntactic node S iff L contains the syntactic tree dominated by S as a subtree.

The principle says that matching obtains when the tree built by syntax is fully contained inside the tree stored in the lexical item. This is obviously the case in (23). However, matching also obtains when syntax builds only the tree associated to the singular, such as the one in (25).

The tree in (25) is also contained in the lexically stored tree for sheep. The entry is repeated for convenience in (26), and the relevant constituent is marked by a rectangle in the lexical entry. As a result, the singular structure is also spelled out as sheep and we get the same spellout for singular as we did for plural. This is the intended consequence of matching based on the Superset Principle.

In this paper, I shall be using the so-called lexicalization tables to encode the result of spellout. A lexicalization table for the singular and for the plural of sheep looks as in (27).

In the header of the table, the grammatical features are given. The rows depict how they are spelled out. The first row of the table depicts the spellout of the singular. The singular has only two components: ClassP and ind. The shading indicates that both of these are spelled out by sheep. The second row depicts the plural, which has three components. All three of them are once again pronounced by sheep, as indicated by the shading.

Let me now turn to the pair mouse – mice. What we need for such cases is to have a pair of lexical entries as in (28) and (29).

When syntax builds the tree corresponding to the singular, both lexical items match, because they both contain indP. When two lexical items match, they compete for insertion. The winner of the competition is determined by the Elsewhere condition (Kiparsky 1973). I give the Elsewhere Condition in (30).

The Elsewhere Condition
When two entries can spell out a given node, the more specific entry wins. The more specific entry is the one which has fewer features.

In the case at hand, this means that mouse wins over mice in the singular. This is depicted in (31) under the circle, where mice (as a losing candidate) is placed under a strike-through. The spellout by mouse wins, and the singular therefore comes out correctly as mouse.

In the plural, see (32), only mice is a candidate. Mouse does not contain Group inside its specification, and it therefore cannot spell out the relevant phrase. The lexicalization table for the pair mouse – mice therefore looks as in (33). The difference in the shading gradient highlights the fact that the singular and plural are spelled out by different lexical entries.

When I come back to the Russian declension, I shall be mainly using lexicalization tables like the one in (33). However, I want to make it clear that these tables arise as a result of a spellout algorithm that operates over trees (rather than stretches of cells).

Before we move on, let me also clarify that even though the choice between mouse and mice may be seen as the result of competition regulated by Elsewhere, insertion of roots is generally not subject to such competition. For instance, the root mouse does not compete with the root sheep5 This observation is compatible with the spirit of The Elsewhere Condition: the condition says that when we have two appropriate candidates, we chose a better match. However, the selection of the root is generally guided by ‘what we want to talk about:’ if we want to talk about sheep, mouse is not an appropriate candidate, and therefore it does not even enter into the competition.

There are two ways how to allow for competition between mouse and mice, while blocking it for mouse and sheep. One option is to restrict competition to items that are linked to the same concept. As a result, mouse and mice compete, because they are linked to the same concept, mouse and sheep do not. (Functional items, which are not linked to any concept, compete against each other, too.)

An alternative way of allowing for competition between two roots is to use the so-called pointers (see, e.g., Caha et al. 2019). Pointer is a device that explicitly tags one lexical item (mice) as a suppletive version of another item (mouse), see (34). The entry (34) almost literally says that mice is a plural version of mouse.

Technically, this entry applies at groupP that contains the feature group as one daughter, and the other daughter is spelled out by mouse. This interpretation of pointers presupposes the idea that spellout applies cyclically and proceeds bottom up. I state this in (35).

Cyclic phrasal spellout
Spell out must successfully apply to the output of every Merge F operation. After successful spellout, the derivation may terminate, or proceed to another round of Merge F.

Cyclic spellout entails that as soon as a particular phrase is constructed by syntax (such as the singular structure in (31)), spellout must apply to the top node and find a matching entry for that node. We know that the spellout procedure does indeed find a matching item for (31), namely mouse. This, however, does not lead to an immediate pronunciation. If we want to add more features, the system does not send the item to PF as yet, but rather proceeds to further merging. For instance, if we want to derive the plural, the singular structure (31) is subject to further Merge. The group feature is added, and spellout must apply again to the top node, as in (32). As the diagram shows, spellout is again successful in (32), because the lexical item mice provides a match.

Matching is achieved regardless of whether we use the lexical item (28) or (34). In the latter case, mice applies because the plural feature is added to a constituent that has been spelled out by mouse at the previous cycle. While root suppletion remains outside of the domain of the current paper, the idea of pointers is important for the analysis of Russian plurals in Caha (2021); cf. Blix (2021) for relevant discussion.

It is important to note at this point that if we find a match for a particular node, this match (mice) replaces any items matching lower nodes, specifically the original spellout mouse obtained at the indP mode. This is called Cyclic Override.

If there are no more features to be added, the derivation terminates and the spellout mice is sent to PF (else the derivation continues by adding more features).

Let me now turn to the singular-plural pair cat – cat-s. The main idea behind its analysis is that the root cat cannot spell out the full plural structure and that is why a suffix shows up in the plural. We can encode this by saying that the root is only specified as indP, see (36). This lexical entry allows the root to spell out the relevant constituent on its own, see (37).

Now recall that the spellout procedure is set up in a way that if no more features are added, the indP (corresponding to the singular) would be pronounced as cat. If plural reading is intended, the group feature must be added. The stage of the derivation where groupP is formed by merging group to (37) is shown in (38). The root cat, as given in (36), does not contain this structure, and therefore, it cannot spell out the groupP in (38). The problem here is that the lexical entry for cat does not contain the feature group and its projection groupP. These two nodes thus remain without spellout in (38). The plural marker -s will thus have to be introduced to spell them out. Its entry is as given in (39).

However, even though the plural marker is specified for exactly those structural components of (38) that the root cat cannot spell out, the lexical item also cannot apply to the full phrasal node groupP in (38). This is because the entry for -s does not contain this node in its entirety (it contains only one of its daughters, namely the feature group). Therefore, in order to achieve successful spellout at groupP, indP has to evacuate, as in (40).

After this movement (which renders the extracted indP irrelevant for matching), the groupP can be spelled out by -s without any problems, see (41):

The final question we must address is why indP moves. In Nanosyntax, this movement is triggered by the so-called spellout algorithm (see Starke 2018, cf. De Clercq & Vanden Wyngaerd 2017; Caha et al. 2019; Vanden Wyngaerd et al. 2020). The algorithm is given below.

Spellout Algorithm (based on Starke 2018)
a.Merge F and spell out FP.
b.If (a) fails, move the Spec of the complement and spell out FP.
c.If (b) fails, move the complement of F and spell out FP.

The algorithm at its core implements the idea of cyclic spellout: the initial clause says that we always Merge a feature F and we try to spell out the phrase we have created, see (42a). (42b, c) are new, and they tell us what happens when spellout fails, describing two types of rescue movements: namely Spec movement (42b) and complement movement (42c).

Consider how the algorithm applies to (38). Its first step, namely (42a), tells us that we should try to find a match for this phrase. However, recall that there is no matching item for the full phrase. As a consequence, the option (42b) is considered. The clause says that we should try to move the Spec of the complement. This will be relevant later, but in the case at hand in (38), the complement has no Spec. Therefore, this step is irrelevant and leads to no movement. As a consequence, we proceed to (42c). This clause says that we should try to move the whole complement of the newly added head, which is precisely the tree we saw in the tree (41). In this tree, the spell out of groupP succeeds and the derivation either terminates (if there are no more features), or it proceeds to the next cycle of Merge.

The lexicalization table for the pair cat – cat-s is given in (43). The new thing is that the spellout of the plural form has two morphemes, where each morpheme is responsible for pronouncing a part of the features.

To summarize: the model I assume (Nanosyntax) allows that morphemes – including root morphemes – spell out phrasal constituents. Different morphemes may be lexically specified for different numbers of features. For example, some roots (like sheep or mice) spell out the plural feature group. As a result, they need no affix in the plural. Other roots (cat) are specified only as indP and cannot spell out the group feature. These nouns need a special suffix in the plural (-s), which spells out group. The division of labor between roots and suffixes is governed by the spellout algorithm, which implements the idea of cyclic spellout and spellout-driven movement. The result of the lexicalization procedure can be depicted as a lexicalization table where individual morphemes are placed under the features they spell out.

3 Declension as a function of root size

Recall now from (2) that one of the basic contrasts we are trying to derive is the one given in (44) and (45). What we see in (44) is that a Declension III noun ‘snowstorm’ has no audible ending in nom.sg, while the Declension II noun ‘week’ has an -a. What we see in (45) is that in the instrumental, each noun simply has a different ending.

The nominative(45)The instrumental
a.metel’-Ø (snowstorm)a.metel’-ju (snowstorm)
b.nedel’-a (week)b.nedel’-ej (week)

I will now show how we can derive this contrast without any reference to declension features. For clarity, the discussion is split across two separate sections. In Section 3.1, I show how we can account for the difference in the nominative. In Section 3.2, I show how we can extend this to account also for the instrumental.

3.1 The nominative

Let me start my analysis of the example in (44) by drawing the structure of the nominative singular feminine, see (46). This structure is relevant for both nouns in (44), since both nouns are in the nominative singular, and both are feminine.

We know that the Declension III noun ‘snowstorm’ has no ending when spelling out a structure like (46). Therefore, I propose that what defines Declension III nouns is the fact that they are able to spell out such a structure in its entirety. This means that they are stored in the lexicon in the form shown in (47).

If that is so, Declension III nouns will be able to spell out all the features of the nominative without the need of any suffix, as in (48).

On the other hand, we know that the Declension II noun ‘week’ needs a suffix in the nominative. We can capture this by saying that the noun is stored in such a way that it does not spell out all the features of the nominative. We do not know exactly how many features the noun spells out, but let me assume for the start that it is lexically specified as spelling out the indP projection, as in (49). (It could spell out also a lower projection. I will come back to this later and suggest that this is in fact the case.)

The crucial point is that with such an entry, Declension II nouns cannot spell out all the features. Specifically, they leave the K head and its projection without spellout, see (50).

We saw during our discussion of the English plural that when a root cannot spell out a particular phrasal node, it moves to the left, as in (51). This movement makes it possible for the remnant KP to be spelled out by a suffix. The lexicalization is shown in (52), and the lexical entry of the suffix is as given in (53).

This way, we capture the difference in the nominative case between Declension II and III without using declension-class features. The fact that the nominative of one class has a suffix where the other class has none is captured by associating each root with a structure of a different size. The rest follows from a general theory of spellout introduced in Section 2.2.

3.2 The instrumental

Let me now turn to the question as to whether (and how) we can extend the treatment of the nominative to also encompass the difference in the instrumental, see the basic dataset repeated again in (54) and (55).

The nominative(55)The instrumental
a.metel’-Ø (snowstorm)a.metel’-ju
b.nedel’-a (week)b.nedel’-ej

In order to be able to do so, I now have to say something about the representation of case in the grammar. My starting point is an observation about case syncretism in Russian (due to Chvany 1982; McCreight & Chvany 1991). The observation is that if we order the Russian cases in a particular way, then syncretism in case is restricted to contiguous stretches of paradigms. The particular ordering proposed by Chvany (1982) is nom — acc — gen — loc — dat — ins. When cases are ordered in this way, as in the table (56), then all case syncretisms occupy contiguous regions within a paradigm.

Syncretism in Russian (McCreight & Chvany 1991)

The columns of the table illustrate various types of syncretism. In the first column, we see the syncretism of nom – acc. In order for this syncretism to be adjacent, nom and acc must not be separated by any other case. Similarly, the second column illustrates the fact that there are paradigms exhibitting an acc–gen syncretism. This requires that acc – gen must be next to each other. The same logic can be traced throughout the remaining columns with the result that the order must be as given in the table.

It has been argued in the literature (Caha 2009; Bobaljik 2012; De Clercq 2013) that *ABA constraints point to a type of feature decomposition that can be called ‘cumulative.’ The idea is that the number of features monotonically grows as we move from the nominative to the accusative and on. This is depicted in Table (57) (see Caha 2009, 2013; Starke 2017; McFadden 2018; Smith et al. 2019; Zompì 2019).

Cumulative feature decomposition
casefeatures
nomF1
accF1, F2
genF1, F2, F3
locF1, F2, F3, F4
datF1, F2, F3, F4, F5
insF1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6

If this type of decomposition is adopted (and regardless of the precise content of the case features), a *ABA pattern cannot be derived (though see Caha 2017; Bobaljik & Sauerland 2018; Vanden Wyngaerd et al. 2020) for other ways of representing the *ABA). In this article (following Caha 2009), I understand each of the case features in (57) as a separate syntactic head (cf. Caha 2010). Once this assumption is adopted, the structure of case in Russian looks as in (58).

The tree encodes the proposal that when the feature F1 is added on top of the extended NP (here represented by the singular number, indP), we get the nominative case. When, in addition, we merge the feature F2 on top of the nominative, the result is the accusative case, and so on.

This proposal allows us first of all to capture all adjacent case syncretisms by a simple application of the Superset Principle (Caha 2009). Second, it also allows us to extend our analysis of the declension differences from the nominative case to all the other cases, including the instrumental. To see how this works, consider the trees in (59) and (60).

What we see here are two trees, each of them containing features characteristic for a singular feminine noun in the instrumental case. At the bottom of each tree, we see a different root: we find the Declension II root nedel’- on the left, and the Declension III root metel’- on the right. We know from before that the Declension II root nedel’- spells out a projection that is smaller than the projection of the nominative, because (recall) the noun requires an overt ending in the nominative. For now, the hypothesis is that nedel’- spells out indP.

This contrasts with the situation in Declension III. Here we know from before that the root metel’- ‘snowstorm’ spells out minimally nomP. In (60), it is depicted as spelling out accP. This is thus an update on the previous analysis, which takes into account the fact that nouns of Declension III (metel’- included) have a zero ending also in the accusative, see (61), repeated from (4).6

The singular of declensions II and III (Timberlake 2004)
lipnotebook
II (fem)III (fem)
nomgub-atetrad’-Ø
accgub-utetrad’-Ø
gengub-ytetrad’-i
locgub-etetrad’-i
datgub-etetrad’-i
insgub-ojtetrad’-ju

Now, the most important point is that due to the fact that the root metel’- and nedel’- spell out trees of different sizes, they leave different number of case features/projections left for the spellout by the ending. It can be seen from the diagram in (60) that the ending -ju, used with Declension III roots, only needs to spell out features F3 to F6. This is crucially a different set than the one spelled out by the Declension II ending -ej/-oj, which needs to spell out all the case features from the nominative F1 up to the instrumental F6. In other words, the difference in root size between nedel’- and metel’- allows us to capture not only the difference in the nominative, but also in the instrumental (and, by extension, in all the cases in between).

As the analysis now stands, the relationship between the two classes can be depicted by the lexicalization table in (62). What we see in the upper part of the table is a Declension III noun. I am using the root tetrad- ‘notebook’ seen in (61). This root (just like all Declension III roots) is specified for all the features up to (and including) F2. Due to the way the spellout algorithm works, this root always spells out all the features specified in its entry, i.e., up to F2 (this is because spelling out without movement is always preferred). It is only when the root cannot spell out all the features that a suffix is introduced. The list of suffixes that occur after a Declension III root are given in the table: we see the gen/loc/dat -i and the instrumental -ju. These endings are lexically specified for spelling out features from F3 and up to F5 (-i) and from F3 to F6 (-ju). Note that due to the Superset Principle, the ending -i (specified as F3–F5) spells out constituents of different sizes (namely the locative F3–F4 and the genitive F3), leading to syncretism. Note that the instrumental -ju can also spell out dat/loc/gen, but loses to -i in competition.

In the bottom part of the table, we see a Declension II root gub- ‘lip.’ This root does not spell out any case features. Therefore, the endings that combine with a Declension II root must actually spell out more features than Declension III endings (they need to spell out F1 and F2).

As a result of how the lexical entries are set up, the spellout algorithm does not allow us to generate hypothetical forms where a Declension III ending appears on a Declension II root. The reason is that this would leave the features F1 and F2 without spellout. Similarly, we cannot place a Declension II ending on a Declension III root, since that would lead to a double spellout of the very same features. Both of these options are ruled out by the Spellout algorithm (42).

The general conclusion is that if this kind of analysis turns out to be viable in the context of the other two declensions, it shows that an arbitrary lexical difference among roots in terms of ‘size’ (the number of features associated to the root in its entry) is a tool that is powerful enough to model declension classes without the use of declension features. In addition, the analysis has no need for contextual specifications: the correct combination of the roots and the endings falls out from the lexical specifications themselves.

Note again that while we eliminate language-particular declension features, we are not eliminating language-particular declension classes. Declension classes exist and correspond to a difference in root size. This theoretical possibility relativizes the relationship between the existence of surface ‘language-particular categories’ and a universal set of features. Specifically, once this proposal is adopted, the existence of language-particular classes is compatible with a universal set of features.

4 The pairing of declensions and genders

In the remainder of this paper, I provide an account of all four declension classes of Russian following the analytical guidelines adopted above. This will require me to change slightly the account of Declension II and III and introduce a new derivational option used in Nanosyntax, namely Backtracking. The analysis of the plural is not shown for reasons of space; it can be found in Caha (2021).

4.1 The basic facts

So far, I have focussed on the difference between Declension II and III. The reason is that in these two declensions, it is possible to find minimal pairs of roots that have the same grammatical features and the same type of phonology, but belong to different declensions. Such pairs illustrate the fact that declension classes are (at least in the relevant cases) arbitrary.

However, there is another aspect of declension class membership in Russian, which is that while it is arbitrary to some extent, it is not fully arbitrary. If we focus on inanimate nouns, there is a rather neat implication relation between declensions and genders (Corbett 1982). In (63), I summarize Corbett's observations (see also Privizentseva 2020).

Declensions and gender, inanimates (Corbett 1982, 216)
a.I masculine
b.II feminine
c.III feminine7
d.IV neuter

The implicational relations in (63) hold for inanimate morphologically simplex (i.e., underived) nouns. Some derived nouns lead to minor complications that I come back to in Section 5. In what follows, I will take (63) at face value and show how we can extend our account in a way that it can capture both the arbitrary aspects of declension classes, as well as the implicational relations in (63).

4.2 Declension II FEM

Let me start by the observation that so far, the implicational relations noted in (63) do not follow from our system at all. In order to see this, consider the table (64).

What I show in the upper part of the table is the current analysis of Declension II, where the root spells out all the features up to ind, and the ending spells out the case features. In the lower part of the table, I show a hypothetical masculine/neuter noun. The hypothetical noun is labeled as meuter (a blend of masculine/neuter). Recall that masculine/neuter nouns lack the feature fem; therefore, the fem feature is lacking in the row of features to be lexicalized by such a noun, as depicted in the middle row of the table.

The issue with the hypothetical meuter noun is that if this noun was also specified for the size indP in the lexicon as indicated in the table (64), it would be expected to combine with exactly the same endings as found with Declension II nouns. Therefore, the conclusion is that it is so far mysterious as to why there is no such noun as the hypothetical meuter in (64).

Can we change something about our analysis of Declension II in a way that we could rule out the hypothetical scenario in (64)? It turns out that this is possible if we adjust the size of the root of Declension II nouns. I have made it clear in Section 3.1 that the only thing we know about Declension II roots is that they do not spell out all the features of the nominative. However, it is not a priori clear where exactly the boundary between the root end the ending actually is. For example, there is so far nothing that would make us prefer the analysis in (64) to the one depicted in (65), where the declension endings spell out not only case, but also number. If anything, the latter analysis would be preferred on the grounds that Russian endings are portmanteau markers for case and number.

So, the question is where exactly the boundary between the root and the ending is. It turns out that if we push Declension II roots down to the level of refP and let the ending spell out the remaining features, we end up with a system that actually derives the generalization that Declension II endings only appear on feminine nouns. The table (66) depicts this option. The Declension II root gub- ‘lip’ spells out refP, the remaining features are spelled out by the ending. For instance, the ending -a spells out the features class, fem, ind and F1.

It can be demonstrated that such endings are unusable when the feature fem is lacking in syntax, as is the case (by definition) with masculine and neuter nouns. In order to see why, consider first the lexical entry of the root gub- ‘lip’ and of the ending -a, see (67) and (68) respectively.

Let us now see how the root and the ending combine in an actual derivation guided by the spellout algorithm. Recall that in the course of the derivation, we are cyclically merging features and spelling out the result. The preferred option is to spell out without movement, and we do so as long as the root contains the relevant constituent. In the case of gub-, this works all the way to refP, see the entry in (67).

However, once we merge the class feature, the root has to move to the left, and the ending -a spells out classP, see (69). When more features (including fem) are added, the root moves cyclically upwards, so that the nominative looks as in (70). This is nothing but a structural rendering of the top row in the lexicalization table (66).8

Importantly, the derivation (70) is unavailable for masculine/neuter nouns. To see that, let me assume that we have, once again, the hypothetical noun meuter with the lexical entry as in (71). This entry is of the same size as the corresponding feminine noun gub- ‘lip.’ If we now try to run the same derivation with this root – but crucially omitting fem – we end up with the structure (72). This structure is just like (70), but it lacks fem.

The interesting thing about (72) is that this structure cannot be lexicalized by the Declension II ending -a. The reason is that the constituent we are trying to lexicalize in (72) (namely the nomP) is not a sub-constituent of the lexical entry for -a. Therefore, the ending -a cannot be used as a case marker of meuter nouns, which is what we were trying to derive.9

To summarize: under the new analysis, the roots of Declension II only spell out refP. Consequently, the endings of Declension II must spell out the rest of the features, crucially including the fem feature. As a consequence, such endings are unable to lexicalize a constituent that has case features on top, but it is missing the feature fem. This observation amounts to deriving the implicational relationship between using Declension II endings – and the result being a feminine noun.

4.3 Declension III FEM

Let me now turn to Declension III. The analysis we have so far is given in (73). This analysis was motivated by the fact that the root needs no ending in nom/acc.

However, recall from (63) that Declension III nouns are always feminine (with the exception of the noun, put’ ‘journey,’ and also a small group of neuters of a special type, e.g., vremja ‘time’).10 The problem is that the particular analysis in (73) does not capture this. To see that, consider the fact that the Declension III endings only spell out case features. The question is: why can't the same endings spell out case features also on meuter nouns? One possibility would be that meuter nouns never spell out a constituent of the size accP, i.e., including all the features up to and including F2. If that was so, the Declension III endings would be unusable with meuters, because their use with a root smaller than accP would leave some case features without spellout.

However, it is not plausible that there are no nouns like that. In fact, there are good candidates among the masculine nouns for spelling out a constituent of the relevant size. To see that, consider the table (74), repeated from (5).

Declensions I and IV (Timberlake 2004)

What we see here is that the masculine nouns of Declension I have no overt ending in the nominative and accusative. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to think that they are able to spell out all the features going up to F2, though they presumably lack the fem feature compared to the nouns belonging to Declension III. But if that is so, then nothing else said, we would expect the masculines of Declension I to combine with the endings of Declension III (contrary to fact).

Therefore, in order to make sure that no meuter noun combines with Declension III endings, we have to revise our hypothesis about Declension III endings. This is what I turn to now.

The safest way to prevent Declension III endings from combining with meuter nouns would be to let the endings spell out the fem feature. Recall that if the fem feature is located inside the lexical entry of an ending, the ending cannot spell out case features without simultaneously spelling out the fem feature. Therefore, such endings can spell out case only if the feature fem is present in the structure; and this is what Corbett's generalization boils down to in the current system.

Table (75) shows one way we can set up a system like this. The idea is that the feature fem is the lowest feature of the endings -i/-ju belonging to Declension III. Compared to the table (73), the endings therefore also spell out the ind feature, and the case features F1 and F2. This has the desired effect that endings such as -i or -ju will not combine with masculine nouns.

This proposal leads us further to revise the size of Declension III roots: in order to fit under fem (which is the lowest feature of -i/-ju), these nouns are now proposed to be of the size ClassP. This in turn leads us to the introduction of two silent endings in the nominative and the accusative. For now, I place these in the table, but I will have more to say about this later.

In the lower part of the table, I repeat the analysis of Declension II as proposed above in Section 4.2. The purpose of this is to show that there is still a difference in size between the two roots: the Declension III root tetrad- spells out classP, while a Declension II root gub- ‘lip’ spells out only refP. This is enough to ensure that the two roots combine with different endings.

Let me now come back to the zero ending in the nom/acc of Declension III. While this is not necessary for the analysis of the feminine declension, the currently used Nanosyntax theory actually has the tools that allow us to eliminate the zero marker. The updated analysis is depicted in (76). The table features the idea that the endings of Declension III spell out the fem feature, while at the same time also maintaining the idea that the root of Declension III nouns spells out all the features in nom/acc.

Combining these two ideas within a single table leads to a phenomenon that we can refer to as root shrinking: a root that spells out quite a lot of features in nom/acc ‘shrinks’ down to the level of classP. Note first that ‘shrinking’ is consistent with the Superset Principle: there is no issue for a root that can spell out F2P to also spell out classP. However, while the Superset Principle explains why the root may shrink, it is not clear as yet why it does shrink.

The reason for this is because of the endings at our disposal: all the endings that can spell out F3 contain the fem feature. Recall that for such endings to actually spell out F3, they must also spell out fem. Since no feature can be spelled out twice, the root has to shrink. This is the only way to spell out F3.

Root shrinking is going to be relevant in the analysis of the non-feminine declension, and I will therefore make a small detour here in order to explain how root shrinking is technically implemented. In the recent Nanosyntax literature, this mechanism is referred to as Backtracking (see Starke 2018; Vanden Wyngaerd et al. 2020; cf. Blix 2021 for an alternative). Backtracking is a derivational option that is activated when the spellout algorithm (repeated in (77)) fails to provide a spellout for a particular phrase. When that happens, backtracking brings the derivation one step back and tries some different derivational step at this earlier stage.

Spellout Algorithm (based on Starke 2018)
a.Merge F and spell out.
b.If (a) fails, move the Spec of the complement and spell out.
c.If (b) fails, move the complement of F and spell out.
Backtracking (Starke 2018)
When spellout fails, go back to the previous cycle, and try the next option for that cycle.

To see how this works, suppose that we have the lexical entries in (79) (the root) and (80) (the ending). These entries reflect the specifications as given in (76).

The point is to show how these endings lead to the lexicalization result as depicted in the table, using the algorithm in (77) and (78). Suppose, then, that we are building the genitive singular case of the noun tetrad- (which is tetrad-i). The derivation starts by assembling the refP, see (81). This structure can be lexicalized without any movement (82).

The derivation then continues by adding the class feature, see (83). Spellout applies without any movement (84).

Let me show one more step of the same procedure: the feature fem is added to (84), yielding (85). Spellout applies, and we get (86).

Following a sequence of analogous steps, the derivation ultimately reaches the stage where the accusative case feature is added, see (87), and the whole constituent is spelled out simply by inserting the Declension III root tetrad’ (88).

When the genitive feature F3 is added, we get (89). Spellout without movement is impossible, since the lexical entry for tetrad’ does not contain F3. Therefore, spellout movements are activated following the spellout algorithm. This leads to (90).

However, the structure in (90) does not lead to a successful spellout: there is no item that matches the remnant genP (containing just F3) in (90). Therefore the spellout algorithm fails to produce any output whatsoever. This is when Backtracking is activated. Backtracking says we should go to the previous cycle (which is accP). The relevant stage to which we backtrack is given in (91), repeated from (87). Once back at this stage, we should try to spell out accP in some other way than before (this is what Backtracking is about). On the first try, we spelled out accP without any movement, but that failed later on; so now we must try alternative options of the spellout algorithm. Trying something else means trying first Spec movement, as required by the spellout algorithm. However, there is no Spec, and so we have to try complement movement, as in (92).

However, this does not lead to a success either, since there is no lexical item matching the remnant accP in (92). Since (92) does not lead to a successful derivation, we will need more backtracking. Note, however, that as a result of backtracking, the root is slowly giving up on the features it had swallowed earlier, and it is releasing them one by one in an attempt to have them spelled out by a suffix, thereby opening some alternative lexicalization path.

Since (92) failed to find a matching item for accP, backtracking is triggered again, then again, until we succeed and open a new derivational option. This happens only once we backtrack all the way back to femP. This stage is depicted in (93), repeated from (85). Here we have first spelled out femP without any movement, recall (86). However, this ultimately lead nowhere at the genitive level, so we are now trying a different option. Since Spec movement is impossible, complement movement is tried, yielding (94).

This option is successful, because it yields a structure where the remnant femP constituent is matched by the lexical entry for -i. This is shown in (95). Notice that by now, the root has given up on quite a lot of features and it has shrunk to the size of ClassP. This is still a larger size compared to a Declension II root, but nevertheless significantly smaller than accP, which is the size for which the root is lexically specified. So this is how backtracking leads to shrinking, as depicted in Table (76).

Once we have opened a new derivational path, the derivation now proceeds as usual. We first add ind on top of (95), yielding (96). This structure cannot be spelled out without movement, so we must move the Spec of the complement, yielding (97).

This structure leads to a successful lexicalization of the remnant indP by -i (98). The derivation then proceeds in an analogous fashion, namely by adding case features on top of the structure (98). These case features always trigger the Spec-movement option of the algorithm in a fashion analogous to (97). The -i always spells out the relevant remnant constituent and ultimately lexicalizes all the relevant case features F1 to F3. This is what is depicted in the original table (76).

4.4 Declensions I and IV

Backtracking is also important in the analysis of Declensions I and IV. The phenomenon which backtracking will be needed for is inter-class syncretism as observed in the table (99). What we see here is that the two declensions differ in nom/acc, but they have the same endings in the oblique cases.

Recall that this phenomenon has motivated Müller (2003) to propose that declension features should be decomposed. The point I demonstrate in this section is that this effect can also be modeled using Backtracking.

Let me start first with an analysis of Declension I. The simplest analytical option (which will turn out to be wrong) is sketched in the table (100).11

The starting point of the analysis depicted in the table is the observation that the root zavod- has no ending in nom/acc. This is reflected in the table by letting the root spell out all the features of these forms. In the oblique cases, the size of the root is kept constant in (100), and the case endings simply spell out the leftover case features.

However, this analysis has the same problem as the original proposal for Declension III: the endings depicted in (100) are pure case markers, and we would expect them to appear on feminine nouns. More specifically, the problem is that we would expect these endings to combine with the feminines of Declension III like metel-. According to the latest (and final) proposal in (76), this noun spells out all the features up to F2. So if the case endings were as shown in the table (100), we would predict that nouns like metel- will combine with the endings in (100), contrary to fact.

This state of affairs forces us to reconsider the lexical entries of the endings in (100). What we must achieve is that these endings cannot combine with Declension III nouns. Once again, the strategy is to say that there are many ways in which the features of the oblique cases can be divided between the root and the suffix, and we must look for a way to do this division in a way that leads to the correct distribution.

Given this desideratum, it will not help (for instance) to say that the endings of Declension I spell out all case features and in addition also the ind node, but not the class node. This would still allow them to combine with (feminine) Declension III roots.

The strategy that works is to propose that in addition to case and ind, the endings spell out also class. Once we encode their specification like this, these endings will be inapplicable in any structure that has the feature fem in between class and ind. The reason is that a specification class+ind+case will never match a constituent containing class+fem+ind+case. As a result, such endings will never appear with feminine nouns.

This type of analysis is depicted in Table (101). Note that I am assuming that the root of Declension I has to shrink under the case endings in the oblique cases. When these roots shrink, they spell out the refP, and the ending spells out the remaining features.

In principle, we could also analyze Declension I as in (102). This analysis does not rely on backtracking, but it has a zero ending in nom/acc.

The two analyses ((101) and (102)) appear to be on a par (both capture the data), but only one of them is compatible with the fact that the endings of the oblique cases appear also in Declension IV. The most straightforward analysis of this final declension is depicted in (103). Since this declension has the very same endings in gen, loc, dat and ins as Declension I, the lower part of the table (103) is identical to (101) and (102). The only difference is in the nominative and accusative case.

Specifically, Declension IV has the ending -o here. The simplest analysis would say that the size of the root is invariant throughout the paradigm, and that the ending -o therefore spells out the features class+ind+F1+F2. This analysis is, however, incompatible with the analysis in (102), which has exactly the same specification for the (spurious) -Ø marker. Therefore, the two analyses clash, because we have the same specification for two different markers. However, it is not possible to have the same specification for them, because they have a different distribution. Hence, juxtaposing the analyses in (102) and (103) leads to a problem.

On the other hand, the analysis in (101) is directly compatible with the analysis in (103). The reason why there is no problem with (101) is because there is no zero ending; its effect is captured by having the root grow and shrink as allowed by Backtracking.

Note at this point that backtracking has an important role to play in syncretism across different declensions. This is because Backtracking leads to the consequence that a root with a large tree in the lexicon shrinks down to a different size. For example, Declension I root like zavod ‘factory’ shrinks from spelling out accP in the accusative to spelling out just refP in the genitive, recall (101). Once the (formerly large) root shrinks, it attains the same size that the roots of Declension IV have; these are associated to a tree of the size refP in the lexicon. Once the two different roots attain the same size in a derivation, they combine with the same endings as a function of this. Backtracking (root shrinking) thus allows us to model cross-class syncretism, which arises when a large root shrinks down to the size of a different root class.

This concludes my analysis of the Russian declension. The main point was to show that we can capture the distribution of case markers in all four declension classes of Russian without making use of language-specific declension features. What I have demonstrated is that this is not only possible, but we can in fact do so in a way that provides an explanation for both vertical and horizontal syncretism among the markers in individual declensions. As always, there remain a number of open issues.

5 Open ends

The first issue, noted in footnote 8, is that so far, we have no straightforward way of enforcing that feminine roots actually combine with the fem head in the course of the derivation, and conversely, that non-feminine roots do not combine with this head. To take the most obvious example, consider the roots belonging to Declension II (like žen-a). As the theory stands, these roots are associated to the structure of exactly the same size as Declension IV roots (e.g., mest-o); both are associated to refP. Now given that these two roots have an entry of the exact same size, the question is why one of the roots requires the presence of fem in the derivation, while the other does not.12

The answer I suggested in footnote 8 was to treat this as an instance of idiomaticity. The gist of the idea is that feminine roots can only be interpreted in the context of the feature fem. If the feature fem is not merged, the root cannot be used. This idea is inspired by Harley (2014). Harley notes that certain roots can only be interpreted in specific contexts (inside an idiom); as a case in point, she mentions the phrase kit and caboodle. Here the root caboodle cannot be used outside of this idiom. In a similar sense, I would like to explore the option that feminine roots can only be used in the context of the feature fem.

In Nanosyntax, idioms contain pointers. The idiom kit and caboodle would look as in (104), where a non-compositional meaning is associated to a phrase containing these three items.

In a similar sense, the entry for mice in (28) is a ‘phonological’ idiom, making sure that mouse combined with pl is pronounced non-compositionally as mice.

On analogy with these cases, I am proposing that žen- (a caboodle-style root with no interpretation outside of the idiom) is interpreted as woman’ when combined with fem, see (105). The tree in (105) depicts the stage of the derivation where the feature Fem has been added on top of the ClassP constituent, which we know spells out as žen-a.

This type of approach presupposes that phonological and conceptual information may be associated to constituents of different sizes. In particular, while I am assuming that the concept woman’ is associated to femP, I am assuming that the phonology of žen- is associated to a different constituent, namely RefP, see (106).

The suggestion (105) is of course tentative, yet such a bifurcation between phonological and conceptual information is likely to exist independently. Recently, it has been explored in an ongoing work by Omer Preminger. He illustrates this on the example of the verb went off, where the phonology wεnt is assigned to [PAST+GO], which is a different constituent from [GO OFF], to which the conceptual information is assigned, see (107).

Another open issue relates to the difference between nouns of masculine and neuter gender. Specifically, I have set up my analysis in a way that it does not need to distinguish between masculine and neuter nouns. Still, this property of nouns is clearly accessed by agreement, and so the question arises whether this fact is compatible with my analysis at all. While I shall not provide a specific proposal, the general solution must be that this distinction must be made somewhere within the low part of the NP (specifically refP) that is always spelled out by a root, and which is therefore unaccessible to the endings.

This claim (that the endings do not distinguish masculine and neuter gender) may appear problematic in view of the fact that there is an implicational relationship between Declension I/IV and masculine/neuter gender, respectively, recall (108). This correlation is not captured by the current analysis.

Declensions and gender, inanimates (Corbett 1982, 216)
a.I masculine
b.II feminine
c.III feminine
d.III neuter

At this point, it becomes relevant that the generalizations (108) are intended to characterize underived nouns, even though as far as I can tell, they hold also for a large majority of derived nouns. Interestingly, among the few types of derived nouns where the generalizations fail to hold, we find cases of masculine nouns ending in -o. This is the case with augmentatives such as dom-işˇ-e ‘house, augmentative,’ which is derived from dom ‘house’ (Timberlake 2004, 146; Privizentseva 2020). The augmentative noun keeps the masculine gender of the base dom ‘house,’ which is a Declension I noun. However, the ending -e is a phonologically conditioned allomorph of the Declension IV nom/acc.sg -o.13

Therefore, the fact that the theory allows masculine nouns ending in -o may in fact be a good thing. As a result, the analysis of augmentatives can be relatively easily fitted into our current theory by assuming that the augmentative işˇ spells out a head that comes below the class node, thereby confining Class I roots to the spellout of refP, see (109). As a result, the remaining features must be spelled out by the suffix -e (a phonologically conditioned allomorph of -o).

If the analysis above is correct, it supports the decision to locate the distinction between neuter and masculine nouns inside the constituent called refP.

A different set of issues arises for animate nouns. The first thing to know about animates is that generally, they combine with the same endings as inanimates. Given this general tendency, I am assuming that the animacy feature must also be located low down in the structure as well, more specifically in the part of the hierarchy that is always spelled out by the root (which is refP).

That said, Russian animate nouns exhibit two points of divergence from inanimates in their declension. The first difference is that with animates of Declension I, the form of the direct object is identical to the genitive case (rather than to the nominative, as with inanimates).

In the current setting, I do not treat this as a case of allomorphy triggered by animacy, but rather as a genuine difference in the marking of the object along the lines of Starke (2017). What Starke proposes is that differentially marked objects carry a special case that he calls big accusative, which happens to be identical to the genitive in Russian. In sum, the idea is that the special shape of the accusative in (110) is not due to animacy-conditioned allomorphy; rather, the animate direct objects are simply marked by a different case than inanimates. If that is so, we still do not have any grounds to locate the animacy feature anywhere else but within the low structure spelled out by the root.

The second area where animates diverge from inanimates concerns the pairing between declensions and genders. Specifically, there are masculine animate nouns that belong to Declension II. Timberlake (2004, 131) mentions two classes of such cases. The first class contains what Timberlake calls ‘diminutive names’ like Saš-a. These refer to males and trigger masculine agreement. The other class contains nouns like neposed-a ‘fidgety person’ or neved-a ‘ignoramus.’ This contrasts with Declension II inanimates (like gub-a ‘lip’), which are exclusively feminine. What I suspect may be the case here is that despite appearances, the masculine animate nouns actually do contain the feature fem in their structure, and the endings reflect this. The reason why we get masculine agreement on modifiers with such nouns would then have to be attributed to a special property of animate nouns, namely that they allow for agreement ‘according to sense.’

This idea further requires that the feature fem is not interpreted literally as ‘female,’ but more abstractly (which must anyway be the case for inanimates). What I tentatively propose is that the more general interpretation of the feature fem could be related to (small) size. It has been observed in work by Jurafsky (1996) that a recurrent pattern across languages is one where morphology marking female-denoting nouns is the same as (small) size morphology (diminutives). There are also gender systems (Savosavo, Wegener 2012, 60–63) where females and diminutive/affectionate terms belong in the ‘feminine’ class, while the rest of the nouns belongs in the elsewhere ‘masculine’ class.

Therefore, the idea is that the feature fem may in fact have the interpretation of ‘small size.’ The idea would then be that when such a feature applies to an animate noun, it yields a female-denoting noun or an affective (male-denoting) form. With inanimate nouns, fem is interpreted uniformly as a size morpheme. This more abstract interpretation of fem may in fact be reflected in some special properties of Declension II masculine nouns. Needless to say, all these questions remain open for future research.

6 Conclusions

This article started from the observation that standard accounts of declension classes often rely on postulating arbitrary declension-class features. Such features are problematic for a restrictive theory of UG. Consequently, the goal of this article was to formulate an analysis of Russian declension that removes from the grammar any reference to these language-particular declension features.

In the account I have proposed, I rely on a universal set of features, arranged in a hierarchy. Declensions arise because different roots spell out different number of features. As a result of spelling out a different number of features, each root leaves a different residue, where by residue I mean those features that are present in the structure but not spelled out by the root. The residue is spelled out by the ending. When two roots leave a different residue, they combine with different endings.

The bulk of the article then discussed an algorithmic implementation of this idea in a Nanosyntax model of spellout. We have seen that it is possible to formulate an analysis that captures virtually all syncretisms (both vertical and horizontal) and does not rely either on declension features, or contextual specifications of lexical entries.

In sum, since the residue determines the ending, and the root determines the residue, the root controls which ending it combines with. However, the selection is not encoded by contextual restrictions and/or by declension features; all of this is an automatic consequence of encoding in the lexicon the set of features spelled out by the root. The rest follows from the general theory of spellout.

Acknowledgements

The work on this article has been supported by a grant from the Czech Research Foundation (GAČR), grant number GC21-12611J. I also want to thank three anonymous reviewers of this paper for their helpful comments and suggestions, as well as the audience at Sinfonija 13 in Budapest.

References

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    • Search Google Scholar
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  • Blevins, James P. 2016. Word and paradigm morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Blix, Hagen. 2021. Phrasal spellout and partial overwrite: On an alternative to backtracking. Ms. NYU, New York. lingbuzz/005793.

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  • Caha, Pavel. 2009. The Nanosyntax of case. Ph.D. thesis. CASTL, University of Tromsø, Tromsø.

  • Caha, Pavel. 2010. The German locative-directional alternation. The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 13(3). 179223.

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  • Caha, Pavel. 2021. Modeling declensions without declension features: The long version. Ms. Masaryk University, Brno. lingbuzz/005537.

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    • Search Google Scholar
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  • Cinque, Guglielmo. 2013. Cognition, universal grammar, and typological generalizations. Lingua 130. 5065.

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  • Halle, Morris and Bert Vaux. 1998. Theoretical aspects of Indo-European nominal morphology: The nominal declensions of Latin and Armenian. In J. Jasanoff, H. C. Melchert and L. Olivier (eds.) Mir Curad: Studies in honor of Clavert Watkins. Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck. 223240.

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    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jurafsky, Daniel. 1996. Universal tendencies in the semantics of the diminutive. Language 72(3). 533578.

  • Kiparsky, Paul. 1973. ‘Elsewhere’ in phonology. In P. Kiparsky and S. Anderson (eds.) A Festschrift for Morris Halle. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 93106.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kloudová, Veronika. 2020. The interaction of functional morphemes inside the nominal phrase. München: LINCOM GmbH.

  • Kramer, Ruth T. 2015. The morphosyntax of gender. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Marantz, Alec. 1996. Cat as a phrasal idiom: Consequences of late insertion in Distributed Morphology. Ms. MIT, Cambridge, MA.

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Appendix

In this appendix, I summarize my final analysis of the patterns. Table (111) contains the feminine singular declensions II and III. One thing to be kept in mind is that the -i in dat/loc/ins of Declension III is not the same marker as -y in Declension II (they differ in accentual properties).

Feminine declensions, singular

In (112), I summarize my analysis of the masculine and neuter singular declensions. It is worth pointing out that the locative -e of the masculine/neuter declensions is different from the -e in Declension II. This is not a shortcoming of the analysis, since these markers have different accentual properties (Melvold 1989, 21). The markers should therefore not be unified. Finally, I am assuming that the -a in gen.sg of the masculine/neuter declension is different from the nom.sg -a in Declension II.

Meuter declensions, singular
1

One thing that is worth pointing out at this point is the issue of phonological alternations. In Russian, Declension II endings differ in the instrumental and in the genitive, depending on whether they follow the so-called hard-stem noun or a soft-stem noun.In the instrumental, soft stems have -ej and hard stems exhibit -oj. In other words, the ins ending -ej in nedel’-ej (recall (3b)) is a phonologically conditioned allomorph of -oj in gub-oj, see (4). I shall treat this as a regular phonological process (orthogonal to the issue of declension).In the genitive, we find an alternation between (hard-stem) gub-y ‘lip, gen’ and (soft-stem) nedel’-i ‘week, gen.’ This could lead one to suspect that in the genitive in Table (4), there is actually syncretism between the two declensions, because the difference between -y and -i could be attributed to a regular phonological process.However, this analysis turns out to be incorrect in this particular case for an independent reason, which is that the genitive ending of Declension II interacts differently with stress placement than the Declension III ending (Melvold 1989, 21). In particular, the ending in Declension II is accented, while the one in Declension III is non-accented. I will therefore treat these two markers as independent endings.

2

The form nedel’-ju would be acceptable as an accusative, but not as an instrumental.

3

An anonymous reviewer points out that an alternative way of looking at α and β is as stand-in features for a more substantive analysis. Under this interpretation, α and β are contentful features, we just do not know as yet which ones these are. A proposal along these lines is presented in Privizentseva (2020), who argues that the identity of the feature [−α] is [+fem], because inanimate nouns of Declensions II and III are overwhelmingly feminine. However, for such an analysis to go all the way, one would have to find a similar interpretation for the feature [β], which is the crucial one to explain away. This feature is the one that distinguishes Declensions II and III, i.e., our two nouns nedel’- ‘week’ and metel’- ‘snowstorm’ in (2). The point made by both Corbett and Müller is that it is very unlikely that we will ever be able to link this difference to some grammatical feature. The feature [+/−β] thus remains an arbitrary feature also in Privizentseva's (2020) work, as seems unavoidable.

4

The analysis is compatible with Russian having three genders. I return to this in Section 5.

5

Such a competition would wrongly lead to mouse blocking the singular use of sheep.

6

Due to the Superset Principle, the fact that metel’- in (60) spells out accP is compatible with it spelling out also nomP, as proposed in Section 3.1. Therefore, this update does not change anything about our previous conclusions.

7

There are two apparent exceptions, namely the masculine noun put’ ‘journey’ and a small group of neuters like vremja ‘time.’ However, the membership of these items in Declension III is spurious (they only share one single ending with Declension III). More on this below.

8

It is an important question to ask as to why the feature fem must be added with roots like gub- ‘lip.’ If fem were not added, the root would not be feminine. In Section 5, I speculate that this has to do with the idea that roots are ‘phrasal idioms’ (Marantz 1996), and they only become associated to a concept when they combine with fem. Note, however, that this is a different issue than the one I am exploring. The main issue for me is how to eliminate language-particular declension features, and not how to pair nouns with genders.

9

It is relevant to note that this result presupposes strict constituent matching; cf. Vanden Wyngaerd (2018) for an alternative view.

10

While traditionally assigned to Declension III, it is not clear to me that these nouns should be classified as such. The reason is that such nouns only share one ending with Declension III (the gen/dat/loc -i), while they inflect differently in all other cases. For example, the neuters take Declension IV endings in the whole of plural and also in the instrumental singular. All things considered, the membership of these nouns in Declension III is not clear. As a result, I am taking the generalization about the link between declension III and fem at face value.

11

Note that this table differs from the tables used for Declension II and III in that there is no fem feature to be lexicalized.

12

It is possible that these roots differ in their internal composition, but the question still stands: how does the internal composition make the presence/absence of the fem head obligatory?

13

Similarly, in the plural, the augmentative has the Declension IV shape dom-işˇ-a in nom/acc, and dom-işˇ-Ø in the gen.pl, exhibiting all the typical shapes for a Declension IV noun, despite its masculine gender. A puzzling fact is that in the nom.pl (and only there), the augmentative may also take on the Declension I ending -i.

  • Alexiadou, Artemis and Gereon Müller. 2008. Class features as probes. In A. Bachrach and A. Nevins (eds.) Inflectional identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 101155.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baker, M. 2003. Lexical categories: Verbs, nouns and adjectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Baunaz, Lena and Eric Lander. 2018. Nanosyntax: the basics. In L. Baunaz, K. De Clercq, L. Haegeman and E. Lander (eds.) Exploring nanosyntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 356.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bayer, Josef, Markus Bader and Michael Meng. 2001. Morphological underspecification meets oblique case: Syntactic and processing effects in German. Lingua 111. 465514.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bittner, Maria and Ken Hale. 1996. The structural determination of case and agreement. Linguistic Inquiry 27(1). 168.

  • Blevins, James P. 2016. Word and paradigm morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Blix, Hagen. 2021. Phrasal spellout and partial overwrite: On an alternative to backtracking. Ms. NYU, New York. lingbuzz/005793.

  • Bobaljik, Jonathan. 2012. Universals in comparative morphology: Suppletion, superlatives, and the structure of words. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bobaljik, Jonathan and Uli Sauerland. 2018. *ABA and the combinatorics of morphological features. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 3(1). 15.

  • Caha, Pavel. 2009. The Nanosyntax of case. Ph.D. thesis. CASTL, University of Tromsø, Tromsø.

  • Caha, Pavel. 2010. The German locative-directional alternation. The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 13(3). 179223.

  • Caha, Pavel. 2013. Explaining the structure of case paradigms through the mechanisms of Nanosyntax. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 31. 10151066.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Caha, Pavel. 2017. How (not) to derive a *ABA: The case of Blansitt's generalisation. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 2(1). 84.

  • Caha, Pavel. 2021. Modeling declensions without declension features: The long version. Ms. Masaryk University, Brno. lingbuzz/005537.

  • Caha, Pavel. to appear. Nanosyntax: some key features. In A. Alexiadou, R. Kramer, A. Marantz and I. O. Massuet (eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of distributed morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Caha, Pavel, Karen De Clercq and Guido Vanden Wyngaerd. 2019. The fine structure of the comparative. Studia Linguistica 73(2). 470521.

  • Chomsky, Noam. 2004. Beyond explanatory adequacy. In A. Belletti (ed.) Structures and beyond. No. 3 in The cartography of syntactic structures. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 104131.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chvany, Catherine V. 1982. Hierarchies in the Russian case system: For N-A-G-P-D-I, against N-G-D-A-I-P. Russian Language Journal / Pyccкий язык 36(125). 133147.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cinque, Guglielmo. 2013. Cognition, universal grammar, and typological generalizations. Lingua 130. 5065.

  • Corbett, Greville G. 1982. Gender in Russian: An account of gender specification and its relationship to declension. Russian Linguistics 6. 197232.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De Clercq, Karen. 2013. A unified syntax of negation. Ph.D. thesis. Ghent University, Ghent.

  • De Clercq, Karen and Guido Vanden Wyngaerd. 2017. *ABA revisited: evidence from Czech and Latin degree morphology. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 2(1). 69.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halle, Morris. 1997. Impoverishment and fission. In B. Bruening, Y. Kang and M. McGinnis (eds.) Papers at the interface. No. 30 in MITWPL. Cambridge, MA: MIT. 425449.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halle, Morris and Bert Vaux. 1998. Theoretical aspects of Indo-European nominal morphology: The nominal declensions of Latin and Armenian. In J. Jasanoff, H. C. Melchert and L. Olivier (eds.) Mir Curad: Studies in honor of Clavert Watkins. Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck. 223240.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harley, Heidi. 2014. On the identity of roots. Theoretical Linguistics 40. 225276.

  • Harley, Heidi and Elizabeth Ritter. 2002. Person and number in pronouns: A feature-geometric analysis. Language 78(3). 482526.

  • Haspelmath, Martin. 2007. Pre-established categories don’t exist: Consequences for language description and typology. Linguistic Typology 11(1). 119132.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jurafsky, Daniel. 1996. Universal tendencies in the semantics of the diminutive. Language 72(3). 533578.

  • Kiparsky, Paul. 1973. ‘Elsewhere’ in phonology. In P. Kiparsky and S. Anderson (eds.) A Festschrift for Morris Halle. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 93106.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kloudová, Veronika. 2020. The interaction of functional morphemes inside the nominal phrase. München: LINCOM GmbH.

  • Kramer, Ruth T. 2015. The morphosyntax of gender. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Marantz, Alec. 1996. Cat as a phrasal idiom: Consequences of late insertion in Distributed Morphology. Ms. MIT, Cambridge, MA.

  • McCreight, Katherine and Catherine V. Chvany 1991. Geometric representation of paradigms in a modular theory of grammar. In F. Plank (ed.) Paradigms: The economy of inflection. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 91112.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McFadden, Thomas. 2018. *ABA in stem-allomorphy and the emptiness of the nominative. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 3(1). 8.

  • Melvold, Janis Leanne. 1989. Structure and stress in the phonology of Russian. Ph.D. thesis. MIT, Cambridge, MA.

  • Müller, Gereon. 2003. A Distributed Morphology approach to syncretism in Russian noun inflection. In O. Arnaudova, W. Brown, M. L. Rivero and D. Stojanovic (eds.) Formal approaches to Slavic linguistics 12: The Ottawa Meeting. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Slavic Publications. 353373.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Picallo, M. Carme. 1991. Nominals and nominalizations in Catalan. Probus 3(3). 279316.

  • Privizentseva, Mariia. 2020. Declension tracks gender: Insights from mixed agreement in Russian. Handout of a Talk at NELS 51.

  • Smith, Peter W., Beata Moskal, Ting Xu, Jungmin Kang and Jonathan David Bobaljik. 2019. Case and number suppletion in pronouns. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 37(3). 10291101.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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  • Starke, Michal. 2017. Resolving (DAT = ACC) ≠ GEN. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 2(1). 104.

  • Starke, Michal. 2018. Complex left branches, spellout, and prefixes. In L. Baunaz, K. De Clercq, L. Haegeman and E. Lander (eds.) Exploring Nanosyntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 239249.

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  • Stockall, Linnaea and Alec Marantz 2006. A single route, full decomposition model of morphological complexity: MEG evidence. The Mental Lexicon 1(1). 85123.

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  • Vanden Wyngaerd, Guido, Michal Starke, Karen De Clercq and Pavel Caha 2020. How to be positive. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 5(1). 23.

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Editors

Editor-in-Chief: András Cser

Editor: Éva Dékány

Review Editor: Tamás Halm

Editorial Board

  • Anne Abeillé / Université Paris Diderot
  • Željko Bošković / University of Connecticut
  • Marcel den Dikken / Eötvös Loránd University; Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics, Budapest
  • Hans-Martin Gärtner / Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics, Budapest
  • Elly van Gelderen / Arizona State University
  • Anders Holmberg / Newcastle University
  • Katarzyna Jaszczolt / University of Cambridge
  • Dániel Z. Kádár / Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics, Budapest
  • István Kenesei / University of Szeged; Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics, Budapest
  • Anikó Lipták / Leiden University
  • Katalin Mády / Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics, Budapest
  • Gereon Müller / Leipzig University
  • Csaba Pléh / Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Central European University
  • Giampaolo Salvi / Eötvös Loránd University
  • Irina Sekerina / College of Staten Island CUNY
  • Péter Siptár / Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics, Budapest
  • Gregory Stump / University of Kentucky
  • Peter Svenonius / University of Tromsø
  • Anne Tamm / Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church
  • Akira Watanabe / University of Tokyo
  • Jeroen van de Weijer / Shenzhen University

 

Acta Linguistica Academica
Address: Benczúr u. 33. HU–1068 Budapest, Hungary
Phone: (+36 1) 351 0413; (+36 1) 321 4830 ext. 154
Fax: (36 1) 322 9297
E-mail: ala@nytud.mta.hu

Indexing and Abstracting Services:

  • Arts and Humanities Citation Index
  • Bibliographie Linguistique/Linguistic Bibliography
  • International Bibliographies IBZ and IBR
  • Linguistics Abstracts
  • Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts
  • MLA International Bibliography
  • SCOPUS
  • Social Science Citation Index
  • LinguisList

 

2020

 

Total Cites

219

WoS

Journal
Impact Factor

0,523

Rank by

Linguistics 150/193 (Q4)

Impact Factor

 

Impact Factor

0,432

without

Journal Self Cites

5 Year

0,500

Impact Factor

Journal 

0,72

Citation Indicator

 

Rank by Journal 

Linguistics 144/259 (Q3)

Citation Indicator 

 

Citable

19

Items

Total

19

Articles

Total

0

Reviews

Scimago

10

H-index

Scimago

0,295

Journal Rank

Scimago

Cultural Studies Q1

Quartile Score

Language and Linguistics Q2

 

Linguistics and Language Q2

 

Literature and Literary Theory Q1

Scopus

72/87=0,8

Scite Score

Scopus

Literature and Literary Theory 42/825 (Q1)

Scite Score Rank

Cultural Studies 247/1037 (Q1)

Scopus

1,022

SNIP

Days from 

58

sumbission

to acceptance

Days from 

68

acceptance

to publication

Acceptance

51%

Rate

2019  
Total Cites
WoS
155
Impact Factor 0,222
Impact Factor
without
Journal Self Cites
0,156
5 Year
Impact Factor
0,322
Immediacy
Index
0,870
Citable
Items
23
Total
Articles
23
Total
Reviews
0
Cited
Half-Life
11,2
Citing
Half-Life
16,6
Eigenfactor
Score
0,00006
Article Influence
Score
0,056
% Articles
in
Citable Items
100,00
Normalized
Eigenfactor
0,00780
Average
IF
Percentile
9,358
Scimago
H-index
9
Scimago
Journal Rank
0,281
Scopus
Scite Score
53/85=0,6
Scopus
Scite Score Rank
Cultural Studies 293/1002 (Q2)
Literature and Literary Theory 60/823(Q1)
Scopus
SNIP
0,768
Acceptance
Rate
25%

 

Acta Linguistica Academica
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Acta Linguistica Academica
Language English
Size B5
Year of
Foundation
2017
Publication
Programme
2021 Volume 68
Volumes
per Year
1
Issues
per Year
4
Founder Magyar Tudományos Akadémia
Founder's
Address
H-1051 Budapest, Hungary, Széchenyi István tér 9.
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 2559-8201 (Print)
ISSN 2560-1016 (Online)