Dva stakana moloka: Substances and Containers in Genitive of Measure Constructions in Russian

2012. № 2 (24), 140-166


The topic is a family of constructions in Russian involving container nouns, commonly known as “genitive of measure” construction(s), illustrated by stakan moloka ‘glass of milk’, which involve a quantity of a substance contained in a container. Stakan moloka may refer to the quantity of milk or to both the milk and the glass (Pustejovsky’s [1993] “dotted type”); stakan has also developed a measure reading analogous to litr ‘liter’. We describe meaning shifts that lead from the concrete container-noun to its use as a pure measure term, identifying four distinct meanings on this path. We discuss the different manners of composition of numerals, the container noun and especially the genitive moloka in the four meanings of dva stakana moloka ‘two glasses of milk’. Sections 1-4 overlap substantially with [Partee and Borschev 2012]; section 5 is new.