Possessor relativization in Russian

2011. № 1 (21), 5-46


Russian uses three major strategies to relativize possessors. These strategies correspond to the three major non-predicative possessive constructions: genitive possessor, external possessor and possessive pronoun/adjective. The external possessor strategy in Russian allows Pied-piping, which is generally considered to be characteristic only of phrasal units. Judging by the properties of this construction, it can be hypothesized that the availability of Pied-piping does not depend entirely on syntactic factors. The choice between relative clauses with genitive possessors and relative clauses with the possessive pronoun čej ‘whose’ depends on a number of factors, such as the position of the head noun on the Animacy Hierarchy, the position of the possessum on the Accessibility Hierarchy and the “predictability” of the possessum It can be suggested that most of the observed contrasts can be accounted for by the greater or lesser naturalness of the possessor functioning as a referential “anchor” in these constructions.