This paper discusses the Pronominal Copula Construction (PCC) in Russian (Pereltsvaig 2001, Geist 2005, Citko 2006, inter alia). The PCC involves a demonstrative pronoun placed between the subject and the predicate (e.g. Misha eto doctor = Misha this doctor = Misha is a doctor). The PCC disallows instrumental NPs, agreeing APs, and PPs in the predicate position and cannot be embedded under ECM verbs. It is argued that the demonstrative pronoun eto in the PCC is not a copula, but a Topic marker (Geist 2005) that also appears in presentational constructions, pseudo-clefts, and clefts. The presence of eto in these constructions is not coincidental: such unrelated languages as Hebrew, Pulaar, and Haitian Creole (Heller 1999, Cover 2006, Deprez 2000) use demonstrative pronouns in analogous constructions. It is further proposed that PCCs have a similar structure to Specificational Pseudo-Clefts, but involve a phonologically null wh-element. Independent constraints on null elements are then used to explain the restrictions on the type of predicates that can appear in PCCs.
Proceedings of the 26th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Charles B. Chang and Hannah J. Haynie
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