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STUF - Language Typology and Universals

Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung

Editor-in-Chief: Stolz, Thomas

CiteScore 2018: 0.42

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.231
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.343

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Volume 65, Issue 2


The pragmatics and semantics of the bare partitive genitive in Ancient Greek

Ilja A. Seržant
Published Online: 2012-06-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/stuf.2012.0008


The present paper aims to investigate the main semantic-functional and discursive properties of partitives on the bases of the bare (independent) partitive genitive in Ancient Greek. Contrary to previous views that the bare partitive genitive (b-PG) primarily encodes the part-of-relation I claim that this meaning of the b-PG has been lost in Ancient Greek. Instead, I claim that the b-PG encodes undetermined instantiations of a set descriptive and restrictive in nature and compatible with kind- or subkind-referring NPs/DPs. It allows the speaker to make no commitment as to the quantity, referentiality and semantic role of these instantiation(s); this/these instantiation(s) have inherently narrow scope (e.g. with negation). These semantic properties determine the discursive function of the b-PG. I claim that the b-PG detracts the focus of attention from the actual participant and links it to the descriptive set or kind/subkind this participant belongs to; the actual participant is extremely backgrounded and its reference is never stored in the discourse model. The b-PG allows the speaker to zoom out from the actual participant and view it schematically in terms of one of its hypercategories (subkind, kind, characterizing/descriptive set). This function of the b-PG explains its frequent occurrence with the verbs of consumption or desire. It explains, furthermore, its use in the predicative position and in headings. As to the diachronic perspective, it is claimed that the foregroundedness of the respective hypercategory and extreme backgroundedness of the subset indicate that the b-PG develops semantically towards pseudo-partitivity.

Keywords: partitive; pseudo-partitive; quantification; definiteness; schematicity

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Published Online: 2012-06-14

Published in Print: 2012-06-01

Citation Information: STUF - Language Typology and Universals Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung, Volume 65, Issue 2, Pages 113–136, ISSN (Print) 1867-8319, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/stuf.2012.0008.

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