The syntax and semantics of dative DPs in Russian ditransitives

Nora Boneh, Léa Nash*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In this paper we propose a syntactic analysis of dative DPs in ditransitive constructions in Russian, answering three questions: (I) what semantic roles the indirect object realizes; (II) how it is syntactically ordered with respect to the direct object realizing the theme argument, and (III) how the first two issues are related to the morphological encoding of the indirect object, as a PP or as a morphologically case-marked DP. Addressing first question (II), we show that two kinds of syntactic hierarchies between the two internal arguments of a ditransitive configuration coexist, and that there are two sorts of datives that are hierarchically higher than the theme: those that can reconstruct and those that cannot. We then establish an interpretative correlation between these two types of dative DP, showing that the former is locational and the latter is not, providing the answer to question (I) and elucidating what underlies the morphological similarity, question (III). The interpretative and syntactic differences between scrambled and base generated high datives lead us to claim that in Russian, dative ditransitives have two distinct underlying structures that are not derivationally related. A scalar approach to event structure enables us to pinpoint the interpretative correlate of each type of dative (locational vs. non-locational) and provides a conceptual argument in favour of a non-synonymy non-derivational approach we pursue here: a path scale encoding event schema cannot be transformed into a different scale based event schema due to movement of the dative DP. Finally, the scalar approach allows us to identify the lexical correlates of a possessive interpretation of the high dative vs. a more beneficiary-like interpretation. Extent scales allow the former whereas property and path scales facilitate the other.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)899-953
Number of pages55
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • A-binding
  • Applicative
  • A′-dependency
  • Beneficiary
  • Creation verbs
  • Dative case
  • Ditransitivity
  • Extent scale
  • Free dative
  • Frozen Scope
  • Goal
  • Nominalization
  • Null P
  • Path
  • Path scale
  • Possessor
  • Property scale
  • Recipient
  • Reconstruction
  • Scrambling
  • Theme
  • Unaccusative
  • Weak Crossover


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