© 2013

Semantics of Genitive Objects in Russian

A Study of Genitive of Negation and Intensional Genitive Case


  • Sheds new light on the genitive/accusative opposition phenomenon in Russian, an object case alternation that has long puzzled linguists

  • Provides a new semantic analysis of genitive objects

  • Reveals a semantic parallel between genitive Case and subjunctive mood

  • Relates genitive objects in Russian to other instances of differential object marking

  • Explains the relation between case and specificity, definiteness, scope, number and aspect ?


Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 89)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Olga Kagan
    Pages 31-57
  3. Olga Kagan
    Pages 161-183
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 185-186

About this book


The genitive/accusative opposition in Slavic languages is a decades-old linguistic conundrum. Shedding new light on this perplexing object-case alternation in Russian, this volume analyzes two variants of genitive objects that alternate with accusative complements—the genitive of negation and the intensional genitive. The author contends that these variants are manifestations of the same phenomenon, and thus require an integrated analysis. Further, that the choice of case is sensitive to factors that fuse semantics and pragmatics, and that the genitive case is assigned to objects denoting properties at the same time as they lack commitment to existence.

Kagan’s subtle analysis accounts for the complex relations between case-marking and other properties, such as definiteness, specificity, number and aspect. It also reveals a correlation between the genitive case and the subjunctive mood, and relates her overarching subject matter to other instances of differential object-marking.


Definite objects Definiteness and DOM in other languages Desiderative predicates Differential object marking Directive predicates Epistemic predicates Fiction predicates GenNeg Assignment to Specific and Definite NPs Genitive objects and perfective verbs Intensional genitive Irrealis Genitive in Negative Contexts Negative concord items Non-canonical genitive case Partitive genitive Russian linguistics Subjunctive mood Weak intesional predicates case alternations genitive of negation intensional predicates property type specificity

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Modi'inIsrael

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Semantics of Genitive Objects in Russian
  • Book Subtitle A Study of Genitive of Negation and Intensional Genitive Case
  • Authors Olga Kagan
  • Series Title Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory
  • Series Abbreviated Title Studies Natural Language
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-94-007-5224-5
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-017-8195-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-007-5225-2
  • Series ISSN 0924-4670
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVIII, 186
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Syntax
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


From the reviews:

“Kagan … takes on the goal of unifying the Intensional Genitive and the Genitive of Negation as one phenomenon. … This book will be of primary interest to Russianists, as it provides a well-supported analysis of a much-discussed linguistic puzzle in Russian … . will be of primary interest to those interested in non-canonical genitive use in Russian. … It is well researched, well-argued and makes an important contribution to the topic of genitive objects and to the field of Russian linguistics in general.” (Lauren Ressue, The Linguist List, January, 2013)