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ERIC Number: ED545909
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 252
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2675-0125-7
The Expression of Possession in Medieval Russian Legal Language: Contextual Factors in the Selection of Alternatives
Duraskovic, Ljiljana
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University
Russian legal-administrative documents from the early fourteenth through the mid-seventeenth century (Middle Russian) show extensive variation in expressing possessivity within the noun phrase. Possessor expressions can be conveyed by morphologically derived possessive adjectives, adnominal genitives, or by combinations of those constructions ("ungoverned" genitives). They can occur before, after, or surrounding the NP head. Previous research has claimed that possessivity was expressed exclusively by possessive adjectives except in cases in which the possessive adjectives could not be formed. In this study, I offer a critical view on the previous research. After providing a detailed explanations of the available possessive constructions, I demonstrate that choice of any given possessor expression is not just arbitrary, as implied by many earlier studies, but reflects factors present in the immediate or larger discourse context - semantic (the relations that held between the possessor and the possessed entity); syntactic (the role of the noun phrase head denoting the possessed entity); and discourse-pragmatic (the position of the possessive construction vis-a-vis the verb; the informational status of the referents of the noun phrase head and possessor expression; and the genre of the document). I show that the internal structure of the semantic possessor definitely influences the choice of the construction: possessive adjectives are preferred when the possessor is a bare noun, a forename, or an unmodified title in apposition with a forename. By contrast, the adnominal genitive is overwhelmingly favored when the semantic possessor is an anaphoric pronoun, a patronymic, or a noun phrase consisting of modified nouns, anaphoric pronouns and patronymics. Mixed constructions are conventional when the possessor involves conjoined noun phrases with the same referent and when it involves several noun phrases in apposition. The main factors in the choice among the different adjectival possessive constructions are discourse-pragmatic. The possessor expression tends to be postposed when it conveys new information or when it is in contrastive focus with another possessor expression. It tends to be preposed when it represents established information or a unique, culturally given entity. It tends to occur as a split construction when all the constituents of the possessor expression carry the same informational weight. My work also shows that the adnominal genitive construction was not limited or restricted in use, as claimed in some previous research, but had its own tyical spheres of use. In fact, adnominal genitives represent the most frequent type of possessive construction in five out of the ten semantic groups that I used in classifying the data. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A