JSL Volume 13 No.2

Steven Franks



Joanna Błaszczak
On the Nature of N-Words in Polish     173

Francis Butler
Russian vurdalak ‘vampire’ and Related Forms in Slavic     237

Brian Cooper
The Word vampire: Its Slavonic From and Origin     251

George M. Cummins
Literary Czech, Common Czech, and the Instrumental Plural     271

Edit Jakab
Noncanonical Uses of Russian Imperatives     299


Donald Reindl
Stefan Michael Newerkla. Sprachkontakte Deutsch-Tschechisch-Slowakisch     359

Joanna Błaszczak

On the Nature of N-Words in Polish

Abstract: This paper examines the nature of so-called n-words in Polish, i.e., (morphologically) negative expressions of the type nikt ‘nobody’, nic ‘nothing’ which participate in Negative Concord structures. Two main questions discussed in the paper are: (i) Do such expressions have an inherently negative meaning? and (ii) Do they have an inherent quantificational force? Both of these questions are answered negatively. As for the first question, it is argued that n-words in Polish—despite being morphologically negative—are semantically nonnegative elements. They are interpreted as negative though, because they (always) cooccur with the sentential negation marker nie ‘not’. In this respect n-words in Polish resemble more Negative Polarity Items like any than negative quantifiers like nobody. Like the former, but unlike the latter, Polish n-words—in order to be properly interpreted (i.e., to be grammatical)—must be licensed by an appropriate licenser (here, negation). As for the second question, it is argued at length that Polish n-words cannot be treated as universal quantifiers. It is shown that an analysis of n-words in the sense of Giannakidou 1998, according to which Negative Concord terms are taken to be universal quantifiers that—in order to be properly interpreted—always have to move at LF via Quantifier Raising to a scope position above negation, leads to a number of empirical and theoretical problems. On the contrary, there is ample evidence showing that n-words in Polish have indefinite nature, i.e., they behave like other indefinites in Polish. Since indefinite elements themselves might be analyzed in terms of existential quantifiers or in terms of nonquantificational elements in the sense of Heim 1982, additional evidence is provided to show that n-words in Polish are in fact best treated as nonquantificational elements. In sum, the paper argues that n-words in Polish are nonnegative nonquantificational indefinite elements. Another issue commented on in this paper is the question of the reliability of some tests being extensively used in the literature as evidence for the universal quantifier status of the tested elements.

Article Abstracts

Francis Butler

Russian vurdalak ‘vampire’ and Related Forms in Slavic

Abstract: The paper adduces strong evidence that Russian vurdalak (‘vampire’) entered the language thanks to Puškin, who formed it from models in the work of Prosper Mérimée and Lord Byron. It also surveys the distribution of related forms in Slavic and suggests that the Croatian surname Vrdoljak may not be related to any of them. These conclusions have significant consequences for a hypothesis of Johanna Nichols regarding the ultimate Iranian origin of vurdalak and related forms.

Brian Cooper

The Word "vampire": Its Slavonic From and Origin

Abstract: After an examination of some of the historical and linguistic background to the word vampire, including its links with the purity of the earth, a new etymology is proposed for the word based on Common Slavonic borrowing from Dacian Latin and interborrowing of words within the Balkans Sprachbund.

George M. Cummins

Literary Czech, Common Czech, and the Instrumental Plural

Abstract: The gap between spoken Czech and the stylized literary language spisovná čeština is so great that in categories such as the instrumental plural of all nominals the prestige code desinences are bookish or archaic while in the spoken code they are nonstandard and colloquial; no neutral register exists. Instr pl noun phrases (modifier plus noun) are among the most marked in colloquial morphology as they have both nonstandard theme vowels and a nonstandard case-marking vowel. Nonetheless they are fully established in all supraregional spoken forms of Czech, Common Czech of Bohemia, Moravian interdialects, and Lach. Unlike one-dimensional morphological markings such as the loc pl in –ách in velar stems, they cannot be recognized in the prestige code. The hierarchical differentiation of these forms is analyzed in the wider context of other colloquial morphological features. It is argued that in code mixing or code switching all varieties of nonstandard morphology make their way into formal speech not as mere stylistic coloration but as agents of discourse function. Contemporary writers such as Hrabal in Příliš hlučná samota make selective functional use of colloquial morphology for thematic focus.

Edit Jakab

Noncanonical Uses of Russian Imperatives

Abstract not available